Students Are Not Elitist or Ghetto, Why Do Housing Choices Assume Such

Last night at one of our many grad student gatherings, we were teasing one of the girls for having to drive through the ghetto to get home. I was really cringing on the inside, because I feel like no neighborhood is the ghetto by default. There is rundown housing, drug drops and violent crime everywhere now.

However, it has not stopped developers from promoting and stroking certain fears among potential homeowners, renters and city government leaders, who would authorize the zoning decisions. Another fear that’s even worse in my opinion is the idea that student housing is either one of two things-

  • Run-down, decrepit housing that’s just a pad for sleeping and high levels of alcohol consumption.
  • Overpriced, student “McMansions”, that assume you want to only live with four people.

Dan Reed over at Greater Greater Washington, among others, has lamented the lack of decent, affordable student housing, as well as the campaigns to prevent developers from building more.

I’m sure at this point you stop and say, “Why not live on campus all four years. It seems like most students want to move off so they can be free”. Well, not always true. At my current institution, there were FRESHMEN who were shorted out of the housing market on campus. Also, there are efforts to encroach in the adjacent neighborhood because the need for student housing is so much greater than supply.

If we are going to be a nation that promotes college for all, we need to work on making sure that people at least have a place to sleep that is humane and affordable at the same time. Essentially, like the workforce housing movement of the outside world, there is a need for student housing. Especially for graduate level students and those with families, housing should not automatically assume that the student’s primary occupation is drinking.