New U leases will be tougher

by Vadim Lavrusik

As the housing search continues for next year, students applying to live in University Village, Roy Wilkins Hall and Mark G. Yudof Hall will no longer be able to cancel their contracts early.

Prior to this year, University housing officials allowed students to cancel their apartment contracts until Aug. 11.

But Mannix Clark, associate director of University Housing and Residential Life, said many students abused the right to cancel their contracts.

Students would apply for the University apartments as a back-up in case their other housing options off-campus failed, he said.

The new policy binds students to an 11 1/2-month lease after they complete their application process.

The policy for residential halls will remain unchanged; it will only apply to University apartments.

According to the Housing Application-Contract Booklet for 2007-2008, students can’t cancel their contracts unless they are withdrawing from the University, graduating, getting married or entering another domestic partnership, studying abroad or entering military service.

Each year after the application process, the University apartments appeared full while many students who really wanted to apply weren’t able to get the apartment they wanted, Clark said. University housing would receive about 150 last-minute cancellations.

“Our goal is to try to maximize space for the people who really want it and need it and to reduce the number of cancellations,” he said.

Clark said many other Big Ten schools have similar policies for both their apartments and residence halls.

University housing officials no longer require students to pay an advance of $100 by May 1 for registering for University housing. They instead pay a $25 application fee by May 1 to secure a room. Clark said Housing and Residential Life changed the policy to reduce the initial costs of housing for students.

Susan Stubblefield, assistant director of University Housing and Residential Life, said the change in the cancellation policy makes the contract more like a regular apartment lease and will attract students who are committed to living in one of the University apartments.

Some first-year students aren’t concerned with the policy change and understand the commitment of the contract.

First-year student Lisa DesJardins, who plans on living in University Village next year, said the policy change won’t affect her because she’s committed to living there.

But she still plans on canceling her contract after the first semester to study abroad in Florence, Italy. She chose to live in University housing apartments for this reason because she would have to sublease her space in most off-campus housing.

One of her roommates next year, first-year psychology student Sheila Lais, transferred from the residence halls last semester and now lives in University Village.

Lais said she likes University Village enough to live there for another year. She doesn’t know what students did before, but she said none of her friends used University Village as a back-up because of the contract.

Other students she knows who signed up to live there are aware of their commitment, she said.