McGill’s housing system have historically allowed numbers to exceeded the capacity of the residence system. This year, McGill partnered with EVO to meet application demands in time for the school year.
McGill guarantees housing for all first year students aged 22 years and under. The student’s residence is determined by a lottery system, using randomly generated numbers assigned to students who have paid their residence deposit fee. Students who are able to pay the deposit in advance receive a lower number, which increases their chance of being placed in their preferred accommodation. However, despite paying a $1500 deposit, a secure placement in residence is not a guarantee for all first year students.
Every year, around 100 to 200 residence applicants are waitlisted on temporary housing assignments, then are given permanent assignments as residence spaces become available before the school year. This summer, incoming students were given “temporary housing” status until mid-August, which left them less than two weeks to make travel arrangements and move into residence.
This backlog was a result of an administrative system intentionally accepting more residence requests than the available capacity. McGill depends on a certain number of cancellations to be able to meet demands for accommodation, which means that the lottery system accepts residence applications regardless of capacity, expecting many students to ultimately cancel their applications. Until this happens, however, the number of applications exceeds the housing space available in McGill’s residences. While students are guaranteed a place in McGill residence, they do not know where they will be placed.
According to Monique Lauzon, a marketing and nutrition consultant for McGill Housing and Student Services, this kind of delay is a common occurrence.
“Many more students apply for admission to McGill (and request residences) than actually end up attending McGill in the fall,” wrote Lauzon in an email to The Daily. “Once residence rooms are assigned in the lottery, there are always some students assigned a ‘temporary residence’ or who are put on a type of waiting list while we wait for cancellations to come in up until classes start.”
However, it appears that McGill received fewer cancellations this year than in previous years. As a result, students with temporary housing status remained on the waiting list longer than usual.
Phoebe Pannier, a U0 student in the faculty of Arts, shared her experience of getting stuck in bureaucratic limbo.
“Waiting was the worst,” she told The Daily. “It was beyond inconvenient to not have any information about my living situation. I didn’t know for sure what I needed to bring, or if I was going to be living with anyone else.”
Additionally, students who received temporary housing status do not have the option to choose between a single or a double room, and have been calling themselves the “rez-jects,” having been backlogged in the system.
“It was beyond inconvenient to not have any information about my living situation. I didn’t know for sure what I needed to bring, or if I was going to be living with anyone else.”
Partnership with EVO
In response to the housing delays over the summer, McGill partnered with EVO, a privately-owned housing complex run by a joint venture between two equity firms: Campus Crest Communities Inc, and Beaumont Partners SA.
“Under Student Housing and Hospitality Services [students living in EVO] are entitled to the same programming and community services as [the] other residence students,” Lauzon explained. This means that EVO will be part of McGill’s residence programming for the coming school year, with access to floor fellows and representation on Inter-Residence Council.
EVO is currently housing 163 first year students in a dormitory-style housing complex located downtown on Sherbrooke street. EVO is an upscale living space with private bathrooms, an indoor heated pool, a game room, a 24-hour gym, and various other luxury amenities. For an individual student, rent for a double occupancy room at EVO starts at $775 per month, excluding meal costs and other costs of living. McGill students at EVO are paying $1100 per month for the same double room with the mandatory $5475 meal plan.
McGill residence fees
McGill’s residence fees are notoriously high. According to an article by the Huffington Post, McGill has the most expensive on-campus housing in Canada, at an average of $1,885 in living costs including utilities in 2015, followed by University of Toronto. This is partly due to the mandatory meal plan that must be purchased along with residence accommodation. Many students do not finish the meal plan in their first year, and carry over their credits to the next year.
This has sparked criticism from many students, with advocates of a voluntary meal plan emphasizing the value of responsibility and choice.
“I think I’m saving money by buying my own groceries although sometimes I end up […] buying food on campus,” said Darian McCabe, a first year student at McGill. Juliane Chartrand, also a U0 student, echoed the sentiment.
“I think that at our age, being for the first time alone, […] being responsible for our meals is a hard, but important experience,” she said. “I think that the meal plan is a very bad idea, [since] you pay too much at the end.”
“I think that at our age, being for the first time alone, […] being responsible for our meals is a hard, but important experience, […] I think that the meal plan is a very bad idea, [since] you pay too much at the end.”
When asked about future housing partnerships, Lauzon replied “There are many factors which affect the demand for residence rooms and it can vary from year to year. We may or may not need additional rooms in the future. If we do require rooms and EVO has rooms available, then there is that possibility.”