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Sunday, February 25, 2024

UF Housing ends 273 housing agreements for Honors Village

Construction delays leave students scrambling for alternative options

A rendering of the UF Honors Village, available on the website advertising the housing option.
A rendering of the UF Honors Village, available on the website advertising the housing option.

The day after Mallory Tyler registered to live in the new Honors Village beginning Fall 2023, she rode her scooter to the UF housing office to confirm her spot was reserved.

The 19-year-old UF data science freshman was nervous there was a processing issue when she submitted her housing agreement in the housing portal Nov. 3. Housing staff reassured her, and she rode back to her dorm. 

Almost five months later, she received an email saying she no longer had a room.

“I had to take a few moments to process it more,” she said. 

UF Housing sent an email out to 273 UF Honors students at 5:30 p.m. March 29 with news that their reserved spot for residence in the Honors Village has been removed due to construction delays. 

Tyler works as a desk assistant for the housing office and tried working out a plan that evening. The housing office closed 30 minutes before the email was sent out, which Tyler said caused her to spend the next night worrying about her future.

The next morning, other Honors students with the same thought as her had already lined up in the small room of the housing office. One student stood to the side, swearing at an employee as students worked to get the room assignments they wanted for Fall.

Tyler secured a single suite-style dorm in Cypress Hall for the Fall semester after working with a housing staff member for more than an hour. Housing staff did everything they could, she said.

“I understand why people are very upset, but some people were taking it a little bit too far by cursing at them,” Tyler said.

Tyler planned on living on campus during her entire college career. 

Priority will be given to incoming freshmen for the 662 beds that will be available, though freshmen aren’t typically notified of their Fall housing assignments until July 7.

“UF determined that the best way to create community would be to group first-year students in the same residence hall,” UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan said.

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Students have until May 1 to select a new housing option, which can be another residence hall, depending on current availability. Rental rates will be based on students’ new room assignments, and transfer fees will not be required. 

Students can submit cancellation requests through their housing portal if they opt to live off campus. The $225 cancellation fee will be waived, though that remained unclear earlier in the week.

The Honors Village will be a traditional and suite-style dorm complex at 1512 Museum Road. The residential complex will have study spaces and laundry rooms on each floor. There will be private music rooms, libraries, maker spaces and meditation spaces on the first floor. 

Buildings two and four are still under construction and will not be completed for the Fall semester due to ongoing supply chain disruptions and weather, while buildings one and three will be done by the Fall, Roldan said in an email.

“In February, UF learned supply chain disruptions could potentially affect the project’s completion date,” Roldan said. “Once it became clear that the materials would not arrive within the project’s built-in delay window, the decision was made to inform those who would be affected.”

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 is only applied to the Fall semester.

Sam Curtis, an 18-year-old UF biology freshman, decided to live on campus again once he learned about the Honors Village. Living in the Honors Village was one of the benefits of being in the Honors Program, which Curtis said he worked hard to get into.

He reserved a spot as soon as possible, then received his email and began looking into alternative options.

“I was like, ‘There's no way that they just did me and all the other people that signed up for this dirty like that,’” Curtis said. “They promised something that didn’t come through.”

Curtis found a friend who has a room available for him to live in next year in Sweetwater Apartments. Still, Curtis said off-campus apartments tend to be significantly more expensive than on-campus options. 

“If they saw this coming, they totally could have given a warning when we registered,” he said. “They definitely could have given us priority to those because we were here first. We kind of deserve it.”

The Honors Village was advertised as new with nice amenities in a central location on campus, which was appealing to Curtis and his peers. The chance to live in a new facility was taken away without a warning, and students were left to pick from remaining on-campus options, Curtis said.

As of noon March 30, 135 students have already selected new living arrangements for Fall with UF Housing, Roldan said. UF Housing is offering a waitlist for students who choose to remain on campus and would prefer to live in the Honors Village if spaces become available in the Summer. A date is not yet confirmed for when students will learn about potential openings. 

Paul Grau, a 19-year-old UF computer engineering freshman, planned on living in a single dorm during his sophomore year before living off campus his junior year. He currently lives in a double suite in Hume West and had secured a single room in the Honors Village.

“If they were just like upfront earlier … I would have considered other options,” Grau said. “I feel like that goes for a lot of other Honors students who signed up.”

Since receiving his email, he has heard no direct word from the Honors Program or housing office about updates or plans to assist students in room reassignments. 

“I don't think the Honors Program themselves is at fault,” he said. “I don't feel like they should be blamed for what happened. I feel like maybe everyone was being a little too optimistic.”

When Grau received his email, he immediately secured a dorm in Hume East for the Fall, but he’s looking into other options. Single room options are sparse in Hume Hall and often go to resident assistants, he said.

“I'm not really distraught about it,” he said. “I think it's just more so that it's annoying that this happened, and I wish I had more ability to make a choice about the matter.”

Marc Taylor, an 18-year-old UF medical engineer freshman, also reserved a room in Hume East after receiving his email.

“I had a list of where I'd rather live,” he said. “Honors Village was my No. 1 spot, but Hume was No. 2, and that seems to be pretty open for me.”

For Taylor, the appeal of the Honors Village was the ability to get to his classes easily without a car and feel close to the Honors community.

The Honors Program hosted an Honors Involvement Conference at the beginning of the Spring semester. The conference gave an overview of the new Honors Village. There was no mention of construction delays.

“I think everyone for the most part has found a backup,” Taylor said. “I don't know everyone's exact situation, but a lot of people were definitely frustrated with it, and they were kind of scrambling for a minute.” 

Contact Sophia at Follow her on Twitter @sophia_bailly.

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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.

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