Newsflash! . . . Not! Housing demand on campus far exceeds the available supply. This is not a new development, and is recognized at all levels at the University of Victoria (UVic), from the students to the administration. In fact, the university administration has tried to address this serious issue. For instance, last year the Martlet reported, “the provincial government won’t let UVic borrow money to build the new residences, even though student residence fees would pay the money back.” However, given the recent provincial government budget cuts, it’s hard to envision the university receiving funding any time soon. The above Martlet article also stated that “The recent addition of 106 beds, as a result of UVic’s last capital plan, has done little to stem the demand for on-campus residences.” These additional beds come at the cost of “[. . .] dorm lounges, converted into two- and three-bedroom apartments, a measure the university hopes will only be temporary.” These dorm lounges are normally gathering places for students that are now unavailable because of the massive demand for housing on campus from first-years who are guaranteed a place in residence. So, what other options does UVic have for residence development?
Even if the university could raise tuition to finance the construction of new housing and meet the growing demand for more on-campus housing, that option would not be a popular one with the current student population, as they would be footing the construction bill for housing that would be built after they have graduated. Another option would be to seek the involvement of independent developers. However, these entrepreneurs may be more likely to develop rental properties for more permanent adults who could pay more rather than developing rental properties for transient students.
Of course, fraternity and sorority housing is also an option. Interestingly, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is in a somewhat similar situation to UVic in terms of pricey nearby housing as an alternative to on-campus housing. UBC, however, has pursued a different strategy for bringing more students to campus, and its Greek Village is one element of that strategy. Over 200 students are housed in eight fraternity and sorority buildings financed by the Greek organizations at UBC. This is a strategic option that could be employed by UVic.
Alumni from Delta Kappa Epsilon have already expressed interest in financing and developing housing that could eventually turn into a Greek Village if more fraternities and sororities were established on campus. An added benefit is that fraternity/sorority housing may be generally less expensive than living in a regular university residence. Furthermore, when you check out most websites of Greek affairs offices on university campuses, they’re very straightforward on pricing and financial expectations. Oh, and the real world that we are preparing for—fraternity and sorority house experiences expose students to more real-life situations, because the house must be maintained, accounted for, and lived in responsibly.
But here is the catch: the alumni of Delta Kappa Epsilon recognize that an investment in adult rental properties is a safer financial investment, even though they are willing to give back to the students of UVic by making the riskier investment in housing for students who choose to join a fraternity or sorority. Of course, if the latter investment were to happen, the on-campus housing would be freed up for students who do not choose to join a fraternity or sorority. However, the alumni have been notified that fraternities and sororities are not recognized by the UVic Student Society (UVSS). The university administration may be willing to recognize fraternities and sororities as long as the UVSS does.
A potential solution to UVic’s student housing crisis is being blocked by the UVSS due to its opposition to fraternities and sororities. In essence, an underrepresentative student body is partly responsible for hindering the availability of student housing. In the end, it’s not only the potential fraternities and sororities that lose; we all lose.