On Sept. 25, NC State released a message regarding the impact of the state budget on the university. In this message, NC State spoke about several projects funded by the North Carolina General Assembly to help improve facilities and support the university. NC State did not announce any new projects related to housing in this message.

I was surprised by this given that, as of 2022, NC State only has enough housing for one-third of its students.

NC State attempted to address this earlier this year when they announced they had acquired University Towers, which was previously an apartment complex, for $29.6 million. This move will increase the amount of available on-campus housing. 

However, while these decisions increased on-campus housing space, it only helps a portion of the student body actually get housing. This decision, along with others, have put upperclassmen in a difficult position, with little signs of improvement.

This issue starts with the room selection process. Current undergraduate students living on campus with under 61 credit hours have top priority in selecting housing. Higher priority students are allowed to select where they would like to live on campus first. Housing is first-come, first-served, so being earlier makes it more likely for you to get housing. 

Because of this, upperclassmen already have a disadvantage in securing housing. This system is working with other factors to limit the ability of upperclassmen to find housing. One of these factors is the first-year live on-campus requirement.

NC State requires that all first-year students live on campus unless they have an exemption. The university states that this requirement is to ensure students’ academic and social success. The university also says that the freshman first-year requirement reduces the space available to non-first-year students. 

I agree that living on campus in your first year can be a good thing. Research has shown that students who live on campus are more likely to graduate than those who don’t. Also, in my experience, living on campus allowed me to understand campus resources and connect with other students easily. 

However, these experiences apply to upperclassmen as well. Accessing resources and connecting with other students is important to every student, not just first-year students.

Also, the number of first-year students living on campus was never a problem. According to Technician, 78% of first-year students lived on campus in 2016, the year before the requirement’s creation. The overwhelming majority of first-year students already lived on campus. Given that priority is ranked by credit hours, most first-year students interested in living on campus would have been able to do so.

For four years in a row, NC State has broken its record for the largest first-year class. This has forced housing to move some first-year students away from central campus, which is where NC State prefers to place first-year students. This could lead to the university giving rooms initially meant for upperclassmen to first-year students.

With the addition of University Towers to University Housing, first-year students can now live in rooms previously reserved for upperclassmen. Without the freshman live-on requirement, upperclassmen would likely have more space. However, by requiring the vast majority of first-year students to live on campus, more upperclassmen are forced off campus.

Living off-campus comes with its own problems. Even with Raleigh’s rent prices dropping in the last year, this drop isn’t affecting NC State students, with rent in the area rising. 

Once you live off-campus, it becomes more challenging to return to on-campus housing. Off-campus students have the lowest priority in the housing application process. And with the size of each class increasing, competition to get a room increases. 

I won’t pretend to have a perfect solution for this issue. Colleges across the US are still looking for ways to house their student bodies. Something has to give though. Whether it’s changing the live on-campus requirement or increasing the number of dorms on campus, NC State needs to do something to address this problem before it gets more out of hand.