A room of one's own - not likely at Buffalo State

The oversights of local public universities leaves students scrambling for on-campus housing

Increasing numbers of Buffalo-area college students are vying for a dorm room because they want the “college experience,” but that can be a difficult experience to have if you’re living in a hotel or with three people in a space meant for two.

As more Western New York students turn to public universities, like SUNY Buffalo State, instead of more expensive private schools and as numbers of international students – who are typically required to live in dorms – increase, colleges find themselves unable to accommodate the influx.

Buffalo State has 360 rooms that are considered “forced triples” – they are home to three students instead of two – while similarly unlucky students don’t even get to live on their own campus. Two hundred students take shuttles to Buffalo State from their dorms at Canisius College.

Though it certainly is a more sensible and financial choice for local students to live at home and commute, everyone who wants to experience dormitory life should have the opportunity to do so.

Students at Buffalo State pay $7,060 annually for that privilege. Although the school has offered a 25 percent refund to those crammed into rooms too small to accommodate them, residents are still coughing up more cash to live three to a room than they would pay a landlord for an entire apartment.

The desire to live on-campus, in a dorm, rises above all other concerns for many students. Schools should be able to fulfill this aspiration for their students – there’s no reason not to, especially because this increases the school’s revenue.

Preemptive measures should have been taken, like schools shouldn’t be enrolling more students than they can house. By doing so, they prevent students who want to live on campus from enrolling in a school where those opportunities do exist.

Fortunately, UB has avoided a similar housing crisis, as it has been steadily increasing space for residents by building apartment complexes around campus and adding Greiner Hall to its selection of dorms.

UB also made the wise choice to reduce its target class size for incoming freshmen, from 3,512 to 3,350 in order to ensure it can meet the needs of the current student population.

Even smaller schools, like Hilbert College in Hamburg and Niagara County Community College, built more residence halls to accommodate their growing on-campus population.

Buffalo State, and other nearby schools like Daemen College which is housing about 20 students in a hotel, should have been better prepared. As local private colleges like Canisius, Medaille and St. Bonaventure struggle with declining enrollment and lay-offs, public universities are reaping the benefits – but they’re not all prepared to do so.

Building more residence halls is an obvious solution. But construction takes time and will do little to amend the more immediate problem – students living in questionable conditions and the hundreds more who weren’t offered a space. These students won’t be affected by a new dorm opening a few years from now.

Students who are currently living in hotels, on campuses that aren’t their own or in spaces that are too small deserve more than a 25 percent refund. Buffalo State and universities in similar situations need to realize this, recognize their failures and generate creative, effective solutions – and genuine apologies.

email: editorial@ubspectrum.com