The University of Utah campus encompasses 1,534 acres in Salt Lake City and is also one of Utah’s suburban schools. A commuter school is a university that focuses more on teaching and coursework than on more traditional campus activities. As a result, the majority of students who attend a suburban school live off-campus. Because only 12% of its students live on campus, the U tends to accommodate commuter students in several different areas, including special parking permits, short-term parking, and various shuttle services.
The U must find a balance between all students, regardless of their life situation. The living conditions of students on campus have deteriorated considerably, with commuter students taking priority. For this reason, the U must desperately focus on improving the on-campus housing experience.
As a U student, I lived both on and off campus. I have lived in Sage Point residence halls throughout the 2020-21 school year and have experienced many benefits of living on campus. I was close to my face-to-face classes and the various sporting events at the U. However, several unfortunate situations in my building dulled the shine of campus life.
To begin with, it was extremely difficult to find a suitable housing situation. My suite at Sage Point had no kitchen and required a meal plan. At the end of the semester, I rushed to use up all my meal and restaurant dollars. Housing options were also extremely limited. I had to choose between Heritage Commons and Kahlert Village, a new community built in 2020. I had trouble securing Kahlert’s brand new rooms, so I settled with Sage Point.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great experience living at Sage Point. The parking situation was comical. The building also experienced constant utility issues that were never resolved in a timely manner. Maintenance requests were ignored for a week. The hot water only worked about 50% of the time, and when it did it was incredibly dirty. While I had family who lived close to campus so I could take a warm, clean shower, international students weren’t so lucky.
88% of U students enjoy off-campus life. Parks, Recreation and Tourism student Andrew Scarborough told me about his experience. He attended U for the past two semesters and lived at home the entire time. He commutes between 30 and 45 minutes a few times a week. In his interview, he said, “I would love to live on campus, just to feel the college vibe. The problem for me is that it’s just a little too expensive. And then also, with COVID-19, it affected a lot why I choose not to. Because I feel like I wouldn’t really have the real college experience.
Andrew and I share the same concern. I can also very much relate to his hesitations that he shared about working too hard in school. Andrew currently has two jobs and works around 35 hours a week on average between them. As he goes to school full time, he has a busy schedule. To make it worth living off campus, he said he would cut his work hours in half to have time to “check out the facilities, explore, and attend different events.” Several students here at U probably feel the same way. It is difficult to afford housing while working a minimum to have the best possible experience. And for the cost of living at the U, I would expect there to be minimal maintenance issues.