Brumby Hall is a student dormitory located at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Jason Born)

When freshman Kyleigh Marshall and her friends logged onto The Dawg House during the first round of room sign-ups to secure housing for next year, they were blindsided by the lack of available rooms in East Campus Village.

With the renovation of Brumby Hall slated for the 2019-2020 school year, University Housing faces the same predicament as years past — providing enough spots for incoming freshmen while available on-campus housing is limited for other students.

“Why did [University Housing] continue to let people register thinking they could get [housing at ECV] and then neglect to tell us that everything was full?” Marshall said.

Brumby currently holds 950 freshman students, and with the renovations, Housing will have to accommodate these students in dorms which usually house upperclassmen.

ECV, comprised of four apartment-style halls built in 2004, is one dorm where rooms have been reserved for incoming first-years. Stan Jackson, director of student affairs communications and marketing initiatives, said the normal rate of around $4,000 will be reduced for these incoming first years.

As part of the renovations, Brumby’s “mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems” will be updated, and rooms will feature individualized climate control, roof replacements and elevator upgrades, according to the Office of University Architects. The renovation will cost $53.6 million and will be paid for by university reserve funds which come from students’ rent payments, Jackson said in an email. The capacity will shrink by 12 students.

"They just didn’t tell us what was open or available. I just wish they sent us an email."

— Kyleigh Marshall, freshman

University Housing coordinated with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to determine how many spaces to reserve for freshmen, Jackson said. University Housing promises all freshman on-campus housing.

Students choosing to live on campus in subsequent years, however, place the fate of their living arrangements in the virtual hands of The Dawg House portal. ECV was not listed as an option when Marshall and other students logged onto the site during their allotted window.

“They just didn’t tell us what was open or available,” Marshall said. “I just wish they sent us an email.”

By the numbers

This past fall, UGA enrolled 5,210 freshman students. Excluding the Health Sciences and University Village housing, UGA has a 7,640 student capacity in all of its other dorms with only 3,800 of those spots in nine different freshmen, including in Brumby, Creswell and Russell.

Jackson said East Campus Village “was, and remains, an option for those [upperclassmen] participating in room sign up.” He said although many current residents of the dorm will most likely choose to keep the spots they have, spots might continue to open up as contracts are canceled or if students select changes to their room assignments.

“Because of the student-driven nature of the process, University Housing cannot predict exactly how many spaces will be available during each round of sign-up,” Jackson said in an email. “Returning students are not guaranteed a space on campus,” he said.

Although large-scale renovations aren’t always common, minor construction and repair projects have left students jaded before. During the 2017 spring semester, renovations and repairs at Lipscomb Hall and Oglethorpe House left students with a lack of hot water and noisy construction, according to a previous Red & Black article.

In the 2017-2018 school year, University Housing faced the issue of overcrowding during Russell Hall’s renovations. With an overall deficit of available rooms due to accommodating freshmen, non-freshman students from Athens-Clarke County and neighboring counties were offered a $1,000 stipend to live off campus.

Alternative options

When freshman Neha Kattoju and her roommate Easha Tadvai logged onto The Dawg House during her registration time, Kattoju couldn’t find any availabilities in ECV. This occurred after she and her roommate called the housing office in advance to determine their chances of getting a spot.

“I asked, based on previous years, what the likelihood of us getting into ECV was, and the person we spoke with gave us a positive response,” Kattoju said.

They decided to forgo on-campus housing registration altogether to live off-campus.

Marshall has to move off campus next year. She feels the Brumby renovations are one cause of the issues she’s faced with housing sign-ups.

“I was really concerned nothing [off campus] would be available,” Marshall added. “I wish this process happened before winter break because so many other people sign their lease so early.”

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