With U of T set for a mostly in-person fall semester and demand for on-campus housing ever-rising, residences at the St. George and Scarborough campuses offered a full refund to any students who cancelled their residence application.
One such residence is Chestnut Residence at UTSG, which offered applicants a refund of $2,000 as well a credit of $2,000 in their ACORN accounts if they cancelled their residence applications by August 2.
Moreover, Chestnut explained that students who cancelled their applications would be prioritized on the wait list for residence openings throughout the academic year.
In a statement to The Varsity, a U of T spokesperson wrote, “The offer was made to students eligible for the first-year guarantee who wish to cancel their residence spot.” The first-year guarantee ensures a spot in residence for new students and is available to all first-year students.
However, the U of T spokesperson clarified that, while each residence offered the same amount for cancelled applications, the “decision to offer funds in addition to refunding deposits” was subject to the discretion of individual residences.
Acknowledging that on-campus housing is limited and demand is high, the U of T spokesperson explained, “The University is committed to providing students with a residence experience and therefore has secured off campus housing.”
The U of T spokesperson explained that UTM Student Housing & Residence Life did not make a refund offer, as they were able to accommodate all incoming first-years who had applied.
Still, the effects of high demand on-campus housing have also been apparent at UTM. Students who have applied for residence at UTM have been informed by Student Housing & Residence Life that they would not receive their room assignments by the originally anticipated time, citing limited availability and high demand for the delay.
“However, we are currently working through placements and will provide communication in the coming days,” the email from Student Housing & Residence Life explained.
Student union response
In an email to The Varsity, Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) President Michael Sobowale discussed the rising demand of on-campus housing at UTSC.
Sobowale explained that the SCSU plans on holding an informational session on off-campus housing to educate students on their rights and responsibilities as tenants. The SCSU is also working on creating a comprehensive resource page where students can find off-campus housing resources.
“I think as the University increases the number of students [it accepts] every year, considerations should be taken to make sure there are enough rooms on campus for students who decide to live on campus,” Sobowale wrote.
Sobowale believes that legalizing multi-tenant rooming houses, commonly called rooming houses, would provide the Scarborough community with a long-term solution that would allow “students to find affordable, safe housing and legal options to live in.”
Rooming houses, which are currently illegal in many parts of Toronto including Scarborough, are homes shared by four or more tenants.
The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) President Maëlis Barre also shared the union’s response to the rising demand of on-campus housing.
In an email to The Varsity, Barre explained that while UTM’s current campus expansion projects are important, she indicated UTM’s failure “to address the struggles that many students face in finding housing accommodation.”
Barre wrote that the UTMSU has met with UTM administration and Bonnie Crombie, the mayor of Mississauga, to demand more student housing and residence spaces on campus and more affordable housing for students in Mississauga.
The UTMSU is hosting a Housing Town Hall on August 23 from 4:00–6:00 pm to consult students and collectively formulate solutions to student housing challenges.
The Varsity has reached out to the University of Toronto Students’ Union for comment.