University can simplify the search for housing

Chandra Akkari

All incoming freshmen students will have a place to lay their heads, as long as their paperwork is completed. That is the University’s guarantee.
And if the dorm life is not for them, the University can help students find a place to stay elsewhere.
The Department of Housing and Residential Life is charged with ensuring that students won’t be homeless.
To accommodate more than 5,500 students living in 10 on-campus residence halls during the fall and spring semesters, the department is building Riverbend Commons on the East Bank.
However, the department is aware that on-campus residence halls are not the only option for students and provides free services that assist in locating off-campus housing.
Tucked away in the rear of Comstock Hall on the East Bank, the housing department’s office is open for walk-in assistance during weekday hours. Many incoming freshmen make visits to check up on their housing applications or discuss with staff the rules about pets and decorative lighting in the dorm.
In the office, housing staff help students look through books of apartments organized according to the unit’s number of rooms. These books include information on location, rent and appliances, as well as other amenities and utilities.
Computers are available to search through free listings of current or upcoming available housing rentals near the campus. These listings are posted online and can be checked from any computer once an account has been activated through the department.
The free online search for off-campus housing is popular among all students because it can be used easily and frequently, said Mary Ann Ryan, the department director. The Off-Campus Housing office located in Coffey Hall on the St. Paul Campus also provides landlord and tenant mediation as well as referral services.
The off-campus office has transportation information on bus routes that connect the University to other locations. Staff in the Coffey Hall office can also help students learn the rights they have as lessees living in apartments.
For on-campus housing, one advantage is the convenience of being within walking distance from classes, the libraries, shops and recreation areas.
Dorms offer other benefits, such as free laundry, computer labs, lounges and Ethernet access. Ethernet, high-speed Internet access, is offered through the housing department ResNet Program and allows students to check e-mail and visit Web sites without tying up their phone lines.
The department provides information and services for family and partnered housing as well as guest and faculty accommodations. There are also 16 special Living and Learning Communities, including La Casa de Espanol and Honors Housing. These communities are designed to group together first-year students who share interests or majors.
Students who live in one of the residence halls must remember to be currently enrolled for at least nine semester credits to remain eligible for housing and keep their housing contracts.
The housing department also works with the halls to employ students in a variety of jobs within the buildings. Many students get paid to conveniently work — in dining, janitorial and front-desk positions — where they live.
More specific information concerning accommodations at or near the University can be obtained by making a walk-in visit to the office in Comstock Hall East, or by visiting their Web site at www.umn.edu/housing.