UVM sells graduate housing, students upset

“Honestly if I had known this was going to happen I would not have gone to UVM. I would’ve gone somewhere else,” said Shavon Green, a resident at the Ethan Allen Apartments in Colchester.

The apartments serve as off-campus housing for UVM graduate students.

As the deadline for when the University sells the popular housing approaches, current residents are realizing the place they call home will soon be gone.

“I know I would never come here if I had knew,” graduate student Asia McClear said. “I only came here because it offered graduate apartments.”

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Graduate student houses at the Ethan Allen Apartments are pictured. PATRICK LANGLOIS AND OLIVER POMAZI/The Vermont Cynic

When the UVM administration announced the graduate housing complex at the Ethan Allen Apartments would be sold to the Champlain Housing Trust — a nonprofit affordable housing developer in Burlington — many community members felt this news was not properly shared. For many, the information came suddenly and without warning.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” graduate student Joseph Fry said. “It seemed like it struck everybody, even the people that worked here, probably by more of a surprise,” he said.

Fry, who is on track to graduate at the end of this year, planned to leave the area already and won’t be affected much by the sale. Married and with two children, he is one of the many graduate students currently living with a family.

Green said she is a graduate student with children.

“I have two children, I’m a single mom.” said Green, who worries about where her and her children will go.

The average rent at the Ethan Allen Apartments is around $1,200 a month, which includes Internet and other utilities. A similar apartment in a safe Burlington neighborhood could almost double what she is currently paying, she said.

One of the many benefits of the apartments is their location in the Essex school district. Her children, ages 6 and 8, would need to switch schools.

“There are other ways they could’ve done this. I’m sure we could’ve figured something out and given people the opportunity to come up with something,” Green said. “There’s no reason to sell housing that people from out of the state and out of the country rely on.”

Finding housing outside of the Apartments may require information inteernational students simply can’t obtain.

“[Landlords in the U.S] ask you about your credit score, which we international students don’t have. They ask us for our history, our records, which we don’t have here.” said Muhammad Kala, an international student currently living in the Ethan Allen Apartments.

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The interior of a graduate student house is shown. PATRICK LANGLOIS AND OLIVER POMAZI/The Vermont Cynic

“Many graduate students feel that their connections to UVM are being lost due to administrative decisions.” said Senate President Devin Champagne in his address to the board of trustees. “the loss of this resource will negatively affect the graduate student community.”

Students created a petition on Change.org requesting that the University provide alternative graduate housing.

“The decision to sell would displace over 100 students and their families, and would negatively affect the University as a whole due to potential issues with recruitment, retention and diversity,” the petition says.

A later post states the University responded to them, and despite the petition they will still be selling the apartments.

“They saw how many signatures we got … and they didn’t care,” resident Amber Barnett said.

Graduate students who teach or do research at UVM receive a base stipend of $24,000, and many spent over 50% of this pay on housing costs alone. With the sale of the apartments, it will only increase the amount these students need to spend.