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    Monday, June 06, 2005

    BYU Housing

    Can I rant some more? Brigham Young University beauracracy has to consist of some of the stupidist people ever to walk this earth. I just applied for a job at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and I'm sure the zebra fish I might work with there have far more intelligence than the BYU Housing Office staff collectively.

    Anyone who knows anything about economics realizes that BYU students have bent over and taken it up the rear for years now because BYU has a housing policy that requires places of residence to be approved. BYU students cannot live in non-BYU-approved housing. That makes you inelligible and unable to take classes (if they find out...the under-the-table housing issue is far greater than they care to believe).

    First of all, our friendly economists know that when housing needs to be approved, that squeezes the number of potential houses students can live in. Decreased supply, with steadily increasing demand, causes rent to skyrocket and incentive for owners to maintain their property to drop. Hence the average BYU student pays about $250-275/month during the school year to stay in an apartment with six people.

    Usually this apartment is pretty run down. Last year, while still at BYU, I had a friend who's carpet was constantly soaked by rain and snow. She tried getting it fixed numerous times but the management just blew her off--until her roommate's father called and threatened legal action. Miraculously, a maintenance man was there within two days two fix the leak and change the carpet.

    Now, why in the world should little Provo, Utah have run down apartments that cost $1500-1650/month? I did a quick search. The average rent for a three bedroom apartment near the medical center (hey, I'm gonna be in med school next year) in Houston, TX is $550-900/month. San Francisco has 3-bedroom, 1100+ square feet apartments for $1400-1700, the same price as Provo. The average apartment with those specifications in New York City, near 5th avenue, is $3500/month.

    College towns are not much different. Palo Alto, CA, which houses Stanford students, does so at around $2000/month for an apartment with the standard specs. Housing near Harvard is aroun $2200/month. But we must remember that both California and the East Coast compensate higher housing costs with higher wages. Provo is a small town in Utah. Housing in Salt Lake City around the University of Utah (arch-rival to BYU) rents for approx. $750/month for the standard specs. It's the exact same price in Austin, TX if you want to go to UT-Austin. Denver, CO shows $755-900/month. University of Arizona students pay about $700/month.

    Ultimately, BYU has screwed its students long enough. The restrictions BYU has placed on housing by forcing owners to become BYU approved has driven down quality while making price comparable to San Francisco, CA. Now BYU has enacted a regulation requiring all single BYU students to live within two miles of campus (unless living with family) effective beginning of 2007. Effective immediately, BYU has stopped approving new houses and complexes because, as one employee told me, there are too many vacancies in the already approved housing.

    BYU has become an enforcer for the giant housing owners.

    Consequently, if something isn't done, rents will increase again, the standard of living will remain poor, and BYU students will continue to be screwed by "the Lord's University."

    4 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    Well put. I used to live at Liberty Square were I paid 260$ a month with 5 other girls, not including utilities. We're talking about 15 hundred a month for an apartment that had no living room furniture! I heard they just upped the price too another 30$. The appartment was crap, it would take weeks to get things fixed, they charged me for things that never happened and refused to pay me back. It was so horrible I went to off-campus housing, there reply was "Well if you don't like it, you can try to sell your contract, there is nothing that's too unlivable." There was also a rule that said we wern't allowed to contact the landlord and when I tried to complain to the managment they'd say "We're students too, and we have to live with it too."

    There is a trent that a lot of people who own the large apartment complexs out here are from upscale neighborhoods out of state. Who wouldn't want to own a complex out here? You get away with murder and you make a fortune off of poor college students. What can we do?

    Triet said...

    Here's a viewpoint from the other side. Currently, my wife and I live in Houston, TX, where there are no zoning laws, and definitely no BYU housing office to deal with.

    Consequently, we live in a two bedroom condo, about 1000 sq ft. We are part of a gated condo complex. Our mortgage + HOA + utilities comes to around $900/mo.

    One bedroom would probably have been a single room, but our master bedroom would definitely have been double. So, you've got three people for $900 (1 single, 2 shared) and you say,

    "That's not too different from BYU."

    Except that we have a HUGE step up in living quality. It's a gated community near the medical center, with nice pergo(fake wood) floors etc. My fellow students that rent places in the other gated complexs around me are paying about $700ish for their places. If they shared those, they'd be less than BYU also -- and we're in the middle of the fourth biggest city in the USA.

    Moral of the story: buy property in Provo.

    Utah said...

    I love it when people complain about BYU policies.

    The fact is, you don't have to go to school at BYU. And there are tons of BYU approved condos for sale.

    You can be a victim, or find a way to solve the problem.

    Triet said...

    People like to use that excuse a lot: "You don't have to live there..." or "You don't have to go to that basketball game..." etc.

    Except that those retorts are essentially non sequitur in my opinion. The debate is not whether to go to BYU or not, but how to better the situation once there.

    Sure, I could have transfered to another school, but I would have missed out on all that BYU offered that I liked, wanted, or needed. I shamelessly used BYU for it's microbiology program. My experience in a micro lab there helped me get to where I am now -- far better than if I had gone to another school.

    What IS proper, is the question of how best to improve a system once in it. BYU students should have as much right as anyone else to identify imperfections/inadequacies/inefficiencies in BYU and strive to fix them.

    My original post, engendered conversation on the problem, and highlighted one large aspect: the BYU housing office.

    The next step is to continue the conversation and steer it towards answering this question:

    "What can we do to change the situation for the better?"

    Then, we just need to do it.