Addressing Blacksburg's Off-Campus Student Housing Crisis

Virginia Tech is known for many things- its football team and the evergrowing list of fans, the top-ranked food, and the engineering program that has rocketed many into companies across the globe. 

However, Virginia Tech’s student population grows exponentially one school year after the next while the number of apartments advertised as student housing remains stagnant. The town fails to completely address the off-campus student housing crisis, forcing freshmen to live in hotels and cramped study rooms. I feel that most of the students agree there should be more available housing, so I spoke with one of my professors to understand the viewpoint of the town’s residents. 

 

1) Are you for or against the creation of more off-campus student housing? Why or why not?

While Virginia Tech is certainly doing what it can to accommodate students on campus, a growing student population will necessitate more off-campus housing too. I’m not sure if it is a ‘for or against’ issue, but rather good quality, thoughtfully designed off-campus housing for students can be a great thing, while poorly designed developments that do not take a community's or residents' needs and concerns into account can harm neighborhoods and fail those living in those developments.

 

2) Do you think that an increase in off-campus student housing is necessary? Why or why not?

As noted above, I think it will be. As far as I understand it, while VT is building more student housing, it is not planning on accommodating all of the planned growth. Of course, it is not just student housing - Blacksburg is generally facing a housing shortage. This shortage is across the spectrum, from quality affordable housing to higher-cost housing for those attracted to the burgeoning tech industry. 

 

3) Overall, do you think that an increase in off-campus student housing would benefit Blacksburg? Why or why not? 

As noted above, I don’t think it is inherently good or bad. It is contingent on if and how developers are attentive to and respectful of wider community needs and concerns. I would point out that there is a definite need for good housing in Blacksburg beyond students. I don’t think it has to be a competition between students and others, but both need attention. 

 

4) Can you relate more to the actual residents of Blacksburg or Virginia Tech students on the matter? In what way?

Not sure I can answer. I’m a resident of Blacksburg, but not unsympathetic to the need for quality, affordable student housing. I don’t think it should be an ‘us vs. them’ scenario - students are a key part of this community and make it what it is as a college town, but this cannot be at the expense of healthy, vibrant and livable neighborhoods for the rest of us. Let’s find ways to improve the quality of life for everyone.

 

Students are not alone in the demand for off-campus student housing! Not all of Blacksburg’s residents despise the idea of more apartments. That being said, it is integral to take their concerns into consideration in order to avoid conflict between Virginia Tech and the Town of Blacksburg. 

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