POV: Politics

12-month housing valuable option for otherwise homeless students

The second that I hand in my last final exam of the semester, I feel the stress of all-nighters, midnight coffee runs and endless studying begin to melt away.

Some students book their flights home as soon as the temperature begins to drop. Others hug friends tightly as they restock their snacks and set off on a road trip home. It is easy to get so wrapped up in the idea of going “home for the holidays” that we forget that many students across the nation don’t have a place to go home to.

Going home simply isn’t an option for more than 58,000 college applicants who indicated that they were homeless on federal financial aid forms this year, according to CNN. This number has increased from 53,705 applicants last year.

The University of Arizona implemented changes to its housing policy for the 2013-2014 academic school year that combat homelessness on campus. For the first time, UA Residence Life gives students the option to live on campus year-round, according to the Residence Life website. This 12-month housing option allowed students to move in to their dorms in early August, stay in their rooms over winter break, and live on campus while attending summer school.

College should be a time for individuals to focus on finding themselves, rather than finding a place to live, and I am glad to see that the UA is being sensitive to the living situations of all of its students by making this policy change – even if it is overdue.

Striving for academic success, participating in extracurricular activities, applying for scholarships, working and maintaining social relationships are just a few obligations that students are attempting to juggle. The added threat of homelessness once the final bell of the semester rings could be enough to derail these aspects of college that students benefit from the most.

Rent for Colonia de la Paz, the designated 12-month hall for this year, which includes two full kitchens where residents can cook, is $700, according to Residence Life.

While $700 is expensive, the guarantee of having a roof over your head could be worth seeking out the financial means, and having a 12-month housing option is a step forward. Implementing a change such as this reflects the UA’s commitment to its students’ health, academic success and overall well-being.