Samuel Larreal | Staff Writer
The Student Government Senate approved a resolution calling for the FIU Department of Housing & Residential Experience to provide fair housing opportunities for upper-class and international students on Monday, after the department prioritized housing for incoming freshmen in the 2023-2024 academic year, authors of the resolution say.
Approved in a 25 to 0 vote, and only one abstention, the resolution states that the Department of Housing and Residential Experience failed to consider the housing needs of international and upper-class students who both face unique challenges in finding off-campus housing.
During the 2023-2024 academic year, International Students and Upperclassmen were not given housing priority by the FIU Housing Department, according to the resolution.
Sponsored by Sen. President Pro-Tempore Tiara Campbell, MMC Housing Sen. Rhea Watkins, College of Arts, Sciences & Education Sen. Anastasia Legoute, Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs Sen. Mikele Mancuso, Honors College Sen. Anish Sharma, the resolution states that the lack of housing priority is due to a surge of incoming freshmen during the 2023-2024 academic year.
Freshmen enrollment increased by 12% this year compared to the fall of 2022, according to FIU Analysis and Information Management data.
According to the resolution the FIU Department of Housing and Residential Experience says first-year and sophomore students priority access to the Everglades Hall and Tamiami Hall housing buildings for the 2024-2025 academic year.
This decision, communicated on an internal FIU email according to Sen. Rhea Watkins, would designate the University Apartments building as the primary option for most international and upper class students leaving both groups with limited housing opportunities.
This information has not been independently confirmed by PantherNOW.
“It’s International Student Week, and I think it’s a good occasion to not just say things on stage but to act,” said Sen. Anastasia Legoute in an extended discussion period. “Coming to a new country, a new language, we know how difficult it was to adapt to a new environment (…) now more than ever, we need something in place to serve as a barrier to protect international students.”
International students face unique challenges in finding work and paying for off-campus housing, a situation that acutely affects students with limited resources.
A significant portion of international students lack Employment Authorization Documents, necessary to work legally in the United States. International students might also lack a credit score to demonstrate the financial stability and capacity to pay for housing off campus.
The resolution met backlash from the BBC Lower division Sen. Dale Brochinsky, who said that the push to prioritize housing for upper-class students might neglect younger freshmen with less experience and might force FIU to adopt unsustainable housing policies.
“We’re going to have people sleeping on the floor of the Graham Center or we are going to be kicking out our lower classmen,” Brochinsky said.
“The issue that we’re facing right now, not to be rude, is that FIU is getting greedy,” said Sen. Pro-Tempore Tiara Campbell in response to Brochisky’s address.
“Every year, they accept more people into their freshman class knowing that they cannot deal with it. So I think that FIU is being greedy, and we need to address it. We need to pass this legislation so we can advocate for upperclassmen and international students who are being affected by this,” said Campbell, calling for further action towards securing affordable housing for the broader student body.
According to Floor Leader Karina Hernandez, The Student Government Association should address the growing concerns for affordability as FIU struggles to grow in a limiting urban environment.
“We are an urbanized institution, which is unique in our state university system (…) You cannot sustain a class coming in. If you know that you’re going to eventually kick them out,” Hernandez said, “and if you already understand the trajectory of where things are going they cannot economically sustain further growth in Miami.”