Nicholson Gateway

On campus housing for LSU students at Nicholson Gateway apartments straight off of Nicholson Drive.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming fall semester, the last thing University students need is more confusion, but that’s exactly what students got on June 19.

LSU Residential Life (Res Life) sent an email informing upperclassmen registered for on-campus housing that with a record-breaking incoming freshmen class, they are "preparing to convert an upperclassmen apartment building or community into a first year community, if needed."

A second email was sent on July 8, informing upperclassmen that residents of West Campus Apartments, if need be, will be reassigned "into available spaces in East Campus Apartments and Nicholson Gateway Apartments. If rooms are still needed after that, [they] will reassign residents to an off-campus partner property." 

While the second email clarified exactly who would be expected to move and assured students it was for the benefit of the incoming class, the entire situation showcases a prioritizing of monetary gain rather than student wellness. 

This is not the first semester that the mandatory freshmen on-campus housing policy has caused issues for the LSU community. Since the advent of the rule in 2018, LSU has faced several difficulties with housing and parking on campus. 

In 2018, freshmen were told on-campus housing couldn’t accommodate the entire class, so students were given the option to live off-campus, a very similar scenario to the one we’re seeing now. The University decided in March that upperclassmen would no longer be eligible to live in traditional res life communities to ensure freshmen would have residential halls to live in — meaning they were restricted to upperclassmen apartments only.

In the past few semesters, the University began renovations on preexisting residential halls and begun constructing new ones to accommodate the increasingly large freshmen classes, but this has contributed to another on-campus disturbance: lack of parking.

In the spring 2020 semester, students living in East Campus Apartments had their surplus parking taken away so construction on a new Res Life building could begin; this only exacerbated the parking shortage students already faced.

After receiving these emails, upperclassmen like Exquisite Williams, an active member of the LSU community, took to twitter to express concerns about the way the University is handling the situation. A major point for many students is the University’s lack of concern about rent rates — one of the most prominent reasons students decide to continue living on campus.  

Although Res Life assured students they were open to answering any and all questions or concerns, the initial emails demonstrated a frightening disconnect between the University and the student body.

The Res Life email gave only a vague reference to rent rates varying depending on the community into which residents were reassigned and focused predominantly on ensuring "that our first-year students, who are new to LSU and are living on their own for the first time, have an on-campus room." 

The University established a record of devaluing upperclassmen experiences and conveniences in order to tailor the “on-campus experience” to incoming freshmen. If the University was aware of the possibility of a housing shortage, they should have expressed the concern in March when housing applications opened instead of advertising that they had spaces available for everyone. 

This experience has finally exposed the freshmen on-campus experience for what it really is: a thinly veiled money maker for the University. As much as we recall our own freshmen years fondly and wish the same for the incoming students, the University’s blatant insensitivity towards the needs and concerns of the rest of the student population is frankly disappointing and disheartening. 

Marie Plunkett is a 21-year-old Classical Studies major from New Orleans, Louisiana. 

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