An email went out to 273 UF Honors students 5:30 p.m. Wednesday with news that their reserved spot for residence in the Honors Village has been removed due to construction delays.
Students have until May 1 to select a new housing option, which can be another residence hall, given current availability. Students who don’t pick a new housing arrangement on campus or opt to live off campus will automatically be relocated to Hume Hall, the current Honors housing option. Those who cancel their on campus housing registration and choose to live off campus will be required to pay a $225 cancelation fee.
The Honors Village is going to be a traditional and suite-style dorm complex at 1512 Museum Road. The residential complex will have private music rooms, libraries, maker spaces and study spaces on each floor. There will also be meditation spaces, printer stations and laundry rooms on each floor. Buildings one and three will be the Honors Living Learning Community.
Two of the four buildings that will make up the complex are still under construction and will not be completed for the Fall semester due to ongoing supply chain disruptions and weather, UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan said in an email. Buildings one and three will be done by the Fall.
Priority will be given to incoming freshmen for the 662 beds that will be available, Roldan said, though freshmen aren’t typically notified of their Fall housing selections until July 7.
The project is still within the original cost estimate of $187 million, Roldan said, even with construction delays. The new facility will have a total of 1,407 beds available once completed. UF housing has yet to determine when all buildings will be ready for move-in. The construction delay only applied to the Fall semester.
Students haven’t yet signed housing agreements, but 19-year-old UF political science and public relations freshman Pristine Thai received no word from UF housing about this change in plans until Wednesday. She selected a room in building one around mid-November, and her housing portal said her room was confirmed for Fall 2023.
About two hours after she received her email, Thai reserved a tentative spot in Springs Residential Hall for the Fall semester, but she’s looking into living off-campus. The cancellation fee, which Thai plans on appealing, adds an extra burden to students, she said.
“The final date to cancel your housing agreement with no cancellation fee is March 15, which is exactly two weeks ago,” she said. “I feel like they've known this for more than the past 24 hours. I honestly feel a little betrayed that they waited until after that period.”
The project updates website for the Honors Village said the completion date would be July with an opening date in August. When Thai saw building one would be ready, she was secure in her housing selection.
When her spot was taken, she and her Honors peers started scrambling for alternative options. As opposed to choosing housing options when more residence halls had spots in November, Honors students who were denied their spots in the Honors Village will be choosing from what is left over.
“The most disheartening thing is that the university refuses to communicate with us,” Thai said. “We can't trust them to be honest and transparent with us about the things that are directly affecting us.”
Thai plans to email housing to work out an appeals process as she looks into apartments to live in next year. She hopes housing will suspend cancellation fees for students who no longer have a spot in the Honors Village for the Fall.
“It’s really unfair to us that we're being put in this position,” Thai said.
Vishnu Malhotra, an 18-year-old UF economics freshman, also lost the room he reserved at the Honors Village. He lives in Simpson Hall this year and originally planned on living off campus his sophomore year. Once he learned about the opportunity for Honors students to live in the new Honors Village in the Fall, he signed up.
Similar to Thai, Malhotra also heard no word about potential room cancellations until Wednesday evening.
“I just think it's pretty unprofessional and very frustrating for all the students who expected to have their housing ready and done,” he said.
Having to follow through with paying a cancellation fee would add insult to injury, Malhotra said, because Honors students had no influence over this change of plans.
He plans on calling the housing department to sort his plan out. But students don’t have time to handle sorting out a new housing plan for next year on top of studies and approaching finals, he said.
“It just feels like there was a broken promise and a lack of trust at this point,” he said.
Contact Sophia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_bailly.
Sophia Bailly is a second-year journalism major and covers politics for the enterprise desk. Some of her favorite things include The Beatles, croissants and Agatha Christie books. When she's not writing stories she's either reading or going for a run.