Parts of 160 Ross — an apartment complex located off campus — will be considered on-campus student housing by Auburn University for the fall 2020 semester. The cost of living in the off-campus complex will be about the same as living in the Village.
The Plainsman obtained emails from 160 Ross addressed to its residents that stated the apartment complex and Auburn University “entered into an agreement known as a Masterlease,” meaning the University will be leasing “approximately half” of the complex as campus housing in the fall.
Kevin Hoult, director of university housing and student life, confirmed to The Plainsman that the University plans to reach “a formal agreement very soon” with 160 Ross to house on-campus students.
Several students who live in 160 Ross told The Plainsman they were concerned about possibly living with freshmen, but Hoult said the plan is to “assign upper-class students at 160 Ross.”
But for students like Dylan Blevins, junior in pre-dentistry sciences, the partnership between 160 Ross and Auburn University could be an inconvenience for regular, off-campus residents. He said he’s “not very hopeful” about the prospect of living with on-campus students.
Current residents of 160 Ross who hadn’t renewed their lease were sent an email stating there was no more room because of the partnership with the University. Oftentimes students delay re-signing their lease because the longer they wait, the more the price could drop. That was the plan for Blevins’ roommate, who now has to find somewhere else to live.
“It seems a little bit dirty,” Blevins said. “The people who hadn’t renewed should’ve been given a heads up.”
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He said it’s not 160 Ross’s fault, but the University’s for placing off-campus residents in a strange living situation.
Aubrey Taicher, junior in apparel merchandising, lives in a four-bedroom apartment at 160 Ross. She said she still has questions about the partnership and thinks that for many students, living in 160 Ross wasn’t their first choice for on-campus housing.
“It doesn’t even make sense — this isn’t on campus,” Taicher said. “You’re literally … living in an apartment, and clearly you didn’t want that because you would’ve chosen that.”
Katie Tebou is a junior in biosystems engineering and currently lives at 160 Ross. Tebou decided to find a different place to stay next year. The fact that 160 Ross is going to be used for University housing contributed to that decision, she said.
She’s also heard that many other residents of the complex feel the same way, saying the news has “not really been received well.”
Tebou said that when residents received an email explaining there were no more rooms available for the fall, those who hadn’t signed a lease were left with finding somewhere else to live or being put on a waitlist. Many residents, however, were uninterested, Tebou said.
“I don’t know anyone that wants to get on the waiting list,” Tebou said. “I guess most people left because they didn’t want to be in a dorm … we don’t want to be a part of that.”
Tebou, like Taicher, was under the impression that the complex would be filled with freshmen students under the new partnership with the University. She’s “not on board” with all the parties, she said.
If she knew that the complex was to be filled with upperclassmen, however, she might have felt differently and remained in 160 Ross come fall.
Instead of living in 160 Ross, some upperclassmen students will have two options of living in traditional University dorms: South Donahue and Harper Hall.
South Donahue is able to house 200 students; Harper Hall can house 80 students, according to Hoult. But there are around 500 to 600 returning students — excluding sorority women and student-athletes — who want to live on campus. That will leave a minimum of about 200 to 300 students who signed up for traditional on-campus housing living in 160 Ross.
“We think that this partnership opens the opportunity for residents to have that off-campus living experience … while maintaining those conveniences of campus housing,” Hoult said in an email.
Those “conveniences” include resident assistants, who work in dorms and assist on-campus students. 160 Ross has its own version of RAs called community assistants. The CAs work the front desk, plan community events and serve residents the way RAs do, Hoult said. He added that there are other conveniences they’re implementing.
“We plan to have a Tiger Transit bus perform a direct route to and from the community and campus,” Hoult said. “Additionally, we will offer residents the option of purchasing an on- or off-campus meal plan.”
The University also plans to use a hybrid model of current housing policies.
“[The University’s policy] will be more in line with current policies at 160 Ross,” Hoult said.
The specifics of those policies are still unclear.
The reasoning behind placing students in 160 Ross is possibly related to The Hill — a dorm predominately occupied by freshmen.
“Our agreement with 160 Ross will allow more on-campus beds spaces for freshmen and give us more flexibility in determining The Hill’s future,” Hoult said.
According to an email obtained by The Plainsman, the University “will be taking over all leasing reservations for” its rooms in 160 Ross and “assume all housing operations” on Aug. 1, 2020.
Hoult said 320 beds will be allocated for University housing students, which is about half of the complex.
Auburn University Housing will ask the Board of Trustees at its next meeting to approve a $4,780-a-semester cost for a four-bedroom, four-bath apartment and a $5,000-a-semester cost for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment.
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