Nearly half of University-owned housing unoccupied for fall semester

Some students have opted to live at home or in off-campus housing this fall.

Freshman+Rogan+Isbell+poses+for+a+portrait+outside+the+Link%2C+an+off+campus+residential+building%2C+on+Tuesday%2C+Sep.+29.+Isbell+intended+to+live+in+a+dormitory+this+year%2C+but+had+to+find+housing+elsewhere+as+a+result+of+the+pandemic.++He+signed+a+lease+with+The+Link+in+August.+%E2%80%9CI%E2%80%99m+just+glad+that+I+was+able+to+find+some+housing%2C+and+not+be+too+stressful+on+me+personally.%E2%80%9D

Parker Johnson

Freshman Rogan Isbell poses for a portrait outside the Link, an off campus residential building, on Tuesday, Sep. 29. Isbell intended to live in a dormitory this year, but had to find housing elsewhere as a result of the pandemic. He signed a lease with The Link in August. “I’m just glad that I was able to find some housing, and not be too stressful on me personally.”

Abbey Machtig

Residence halls and on-campus apartments at the University of Minnesota are at 57% occupancy as students find alternative housing options off campus.

As the University continues to make changes to campus life in response to COVID-19, many students have either canceled or deferred their housing contracts and made other living arrangements. Some students say restrictions for residence halls and the two-week move-in delay contributed to their choices to end or defer their housing contracts.

University-owned apartments are at 61% occupancy with dorms operating at approximately 56% occupancy. First-year residence halls typically sit at 89% occupancy said University spokesperson Meagan Pierluissi in an email to the Minnesota Daily.

Rogan Isbell, a University first-year student in the College of Liberal Arts, received a full refund for his housing contract when he decided to move into an off-campus apartment building.

Isbell decided to move into an apartment due to doubts about students’ adherence to the restrictions outlined in the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan, such as limits on guests and required “back home times.”

“As much as I would love to trust college kids and think they’re all going to do the good things, I know that’s not going to happen,” Isbell said.

After the announcement of the plan on Aug. 21, 1,325 housing contracts were canceled. An additional 603 contracts were deferred to spring semester since Aug. 21.

However, some students canceled their contracts prior to this announcement, with 1,208 total contracts deferred to the second semester since June 25.

“I started looking into the UMN housing group on Facebook, and I’m lucky because I found a guy, there were three of them, and they needed one more person for the apartment,” Isbell said. “So I messaged them I was interested. We ended up accepting, and I got the lease filled out and everything.”

Nicholas Chloros, a first-year student at the University studying architecture, also deferred his housing contract and has chosen to live at home following the announcement of the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan.

Chloros, who was originally assigned to live in the 17th Avenue residence hall, received a refund after deferring his contract to spring semester.

In order to cancel or defer a housing contract, the University required students to notify Housing and Residential Life.

“There’s just a link that you would go to that would allow you to cancel your contract. You essentially would just list the reason, and then you had to send in some paperwork,” Isbell said.

“I just sent them the copy of my lease that I had done online. Once I did that, I just had to wait a day or two, then they came back and accepted it.”