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'I felt almost forced to move off campus': Arizona State University students criticize downtown campus' lack of housing

While Arizona State University has advertised its increased enrollment for in-person students, this achievement may be a detriment for students looking to secure housing. 

Since 2019, Arizona State’s total immersion, or in-person, enrollment has increased from 75,698 to 79,593, according to the enrollment statistics on ASU’s website. Despite these changes, the most recent addition to on-campus housing on the downtown campus was Fusion on First, an upper-division dorm that opened to students in 2021, providing space for up to 531 students, according to Dr. Kendra Hunter, the deputy vice president of housing at ASU.

This provides upperclassmen with two housing options: Fusion on First and Gordon Commons, the first-year dorms built in 2009. The only housing option available to first-year students is  Gordon Commons, which Hunter said houses up to 1,284 students.

Between the two housing options, there’s a total 1,815 beds available, but according to ASU, 10,608 students attend the downtown campus, leaving over 8,000 students to find their own housing accommodations.

Many of these students, such as second-year journalism major Anthony Scarmack, are out-of-state students who have few options other than buying or renting off-campus. 

“I felt almost forced to move off campus,” Scarmack said. “Obviously I wanted to stay at ASU, but I wasn’t able to get housing. This is my first time ever looking for housing to rent, and it’s especially difficult in Phoenix, in a growing area.”

While registering for on-campus housing, ASU students form groups via the ASU housing portal with the students they wish to room with. Time slots are then assigned to each person in the group, and the one with the earliest time selects the living space for the entire group. 

Students of Barrett, the Honors College, like Lex Doig, are guaranteed housing but still struggle with confirming their rooms via the housing portal.

“When I first got housing I had some difficulties confirming my room … and the housing department was not receptive to questions,” Doig said. “I would email them asking for the next steps and it would take multiple weeks to get a half-hearted answer that helped nothing.”

Hunter said that the housing application process will remain mostly the same this year, with a few modifications that will be announced in future weeks. Hunter gave no specific information as to when said modifications would be implemented.

“My friend had the first available time slot in our group, which was on day three, and all the spots were already taken up,” Scarmack said. “To say the least it’s frustrating because ASU keeps accepting students, especially on the downtown campus, and they only have a freshman and upperclassmen dorm. I feel like you should be able to give all downtown students housing.”

Hunter said that ASU has plans to introduce more housing, but the latest project won’t be located downtown. 

“We are excited to be opening up a new 507-bed residential hall at the ASU West campus in 2024,” Hunter said in an emailed statement. 

For now, Hunter said that students looking to apply for housing for the 2023-24 academic year should keep an eye out for an email with information regarding the sign-up process in future weeks. 

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