The Daily Cardinal OUR IMPACT The Student Living Issue Lake Mendota
GRAPHIC BY JESSICA LEVY
“…the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”
Introduction 2 Our Impact 2021
An independent student newspaper, serving the University of Wisconsin-Madison community since 1892 Volume 131, Issue 13
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News and Editorial firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief Addison Lathers
Managing Editor Grace Hodgman
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TO THE READER:
Each semester, The Daily Cardinal releases an Action Project. These issues are distinct from our standard newspaper in that they give our readers a better understanding of how critical topics affect our campus and surrounding areas. In the past, we’ve looked at COVID-19, climate change and disability among others. This summer, when we at the Cardinal first mulled over a subject for our fall Action Project, we knew that we wanted to select a topic that spoke to the most pressing and timely issue facing our community. Our staff proposed an in-depth look at student housing and the effects of our presence in the Madison area. While universities and colleges are often hailed as assets to their community, the city of Madison has repeatedly received the short end of the stick. State Street is now being slowly overtaken with luxury apartments marketed towards students. Consequently, lower-income students and community members struggle to find safe, affordable housing as city officials scramble to address Madison’s shrinking vacancy rate of just 3%. So how did we get here? Gentrification has become an increasingly contentious topic in recent years, and universities are not exempt from the trend and its negative impacts on communities. Colleges expanding into communities are partially to blame; Bloomberg CityLab called American universities’ effect on cities “a paradox of prosperity,” as the same institutions that make contributions to technology simultaneously create economic segregation and urban inequality. Bookstores become high-rise apartments; local pharmacies are forced to relocate. Wisconsin’s capital city is changing, and it may be our fault. And so our project was born. The Cardinal partnered with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies to responsibly report on this local and national issue as it impacts both the lives of students and long-time residents. The “Our Impact” issue has been divided into five sections: Dorms, Luxury, Greek Life, Off-Campus and Commuter. Our writers looked at each way of student living and analyzed its costs, sustainability and long-lasting effects on the surrounding community. We hope you consider looking at your own impact as well.
Editorial Board l
Riley Sumner (Chair) • Ian-Michael Griffin • Grace Hodgman Em-J Krigsman • Addison Lathers Anupras Mohapatra
Board of Directors Scott Girard, President Barry Adams • Herman Baumann Don Miner • Nancy Sandy Phil Hands • Josh Klemons Jennifer Sereno • Barbara Arnolds Jason Stein • Tina Zavoral
© 2021, The Daily Cardinal Media Corporation ISSN 0011-5398
For the record Corrections or clarifications? Call The Daily Cardinal office at 608262-8000 or send an email to
Addison Lathers Editor-in-Chief Grace Hodgman Managing Editor
Our Impact 2021
Why dorms? Factors that determine housing By Hannah Ritvo STAFF WRITER
Every year, incoming freshmen at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are faced with a huge question: where should I live? In a new city, at a new school, surrounded by over 40,000 new faces, an overwhelming majority of Badgers decide to live in the dorms rather than off-campus. This fall, 89% of all first-year students chose to live in one of the 21 residence halls UW offers. Many Badgers continue to make this decision because of residence halls’ proximity to classes, inviting atmosphere and provided amenities. Claudia Otero, a UW-Madison freshman who lives in Dejope Residence Hall, chose to live in the dorms because she wanted to get the traditional college experience. To her, this traditional experience involves living in a residence hall during her freshman year. “Cost and social scene were
probably the biggest factors for me,” said Otero. “It was important to have an affordable place to live, while it was also important to have a large social scene close to me.” Ultimately, Otero is happy with the choice she made. “There is always something going on in Dejope if I want to get out and do something,” Otero said. “There are a bunch of people I can socialize and hang out with.” Ella Cunz, a UW-Madison sophomore echoed these sentiments. “I have absolutely no regrets about living in the dorms, for it allowed me to meet my forever friends,” Cunz said. “Live, love, Witte.” Some Badgers feel differently, describing concerns about unequal pricing. “After going into Witte once, Sellery just feels like an extremely downgraded version of that,” Sellery Residence Hall resident Riya Shah said to the Daily Cardinal in late September of 2021. Sellery residence hall has
been undergoing construction since May 2020. Because of this inconvenience, Sellery residents are offered a $300 discount. Alicia Gee, a UW-Madison sophomore who moved out of Sellery last year, spoke to The Daily Cardinal in October of 2021. She expressed frustrations with the hall and its ongoing construction. “The 300 discount for construction was not worth having our room shake constantly and be scared of the elevator breaking down and water being shut off for days at a time,” Gee said. Gee and her roommate moved to Liz Waters Residence Halls. Brendon Dybdahl, Director of Marketing & Communications for University Housing, believes most Badgers pick dorms primarily because they provide an easy environment to make friends and get support. “The residence halls provide thousands of programs and events, on-site course sections, tutoring and advising, live-in support staff, computer resources, study spaces, cleaning and
maintenance and convenient services,” said Dybdahl. It costs a student between $10,000 and $14,100 for a year’s room and board, depending on which residence hall and dining plan are selected. Rates also vary depending on hall ameni-
ties, room furnishings, maintenance and repairs fee, dining fees and fees stemming from the cleaning of bathrooms and common spaces. “UW-Madison has some of the lowest on-campus housing rates in the Big Ten,” Dybdahl said.
Dejope Residence Hall is one of the most popular dorms on campus.
UW-Madison’s history of housing shortages and displacement By Gina Musso FEATURES EDITOR
Each year, a temporary population of over 40,000 University of WisconsinMadison students flock to the small city for the eight-month school year. Of the student population, around 8,000 call one of 21 dorms home, but growing class sizes have made finding beds for each student more difficult.
from war. A lot of students had the GI Bill, so their education was being paid for, but also it’s coming at a time when there’s an increased awareness that college is important.” To accommodate this influx of students, the UW-Madison Campus Planning Commission approved construction efforts for 12 new buildings and expansions on campus following World War II, and
but they really started building dorms in the 40s, 50s [and] 60s, and so right after World War II, about 1945 to 1950, the university is frantically building dorms, but they can’t build them quick enough to serve the student population. So what happened is that students were forced to find housing on the private market.” In order to assist in students’ search for off-campus
IRENA CLARKOWSKI/THE DAILY CARDINAL
The university was unable to build dorms quick enough, so students were forced to find housing on the private market. The search for housing prompted by growing student populations is not a new issue at UW-Madison, according to Kacie Lucchini Butcher, director of the UW-Madison Public History Project. “Housing became a very serious problem for the university after World War II,” Lucchini Butcher said. “After World War II, the university population boomed. We [had] so many students coming back
in the meantime, some students lived in metal huts, tents and trailers wherever there was open space on campus, according to Madison: History of a Model City. The university needed to build dorms to combat the housing shortage, but also needed to assist in helping students find off-campus housing. “The University was building dorms starting very, very early in the university’s history,
housing, UW-Madison officials created a list of approved landlords who enforced the university’s two standards requiring that living spaces meet the city of Madison’s building codes and that they be segregated by gender, according to Lucchini Butcher. “So men and women couldn’t live in the same apartment building, and oftentimes there were some detailed rules like women had to have like
a house mother or somebody who lived on site who could monitor them and make sure that they were following curfew [and] that they weren’t having men alone in their rooms,” Lucchini Butcher said. “There was like a heavy element of policing, decorum and sexuality.” Since there were not enough dorms to accommodate all students, the University gave in-state students priority for dorms. When students were not assigned dorms, then they considered apartment options. One of which was Eden Hall, which still houses students off campus under the name Langdon Hall. Finding off-campus options posed other challenges, as the surge in student population occurred before the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, which legally prohibited individuals from being discriminated against based on their race, religion, national origin, sex, disability and family status. “So these students would go to apply to these apartment buildings, these dorms, and many students of color and Jewish students would be rejected from these apartment buildings based solely on their religion or their race,” Lucchini Butcher said. “So [there was] this weird balance of rushing to build dorms — but not being able to build them quick enough for the student population — mixed with students who were being forced onto this private housing market that was also competitive where landlords were legally free to discriminate, creating all types of issues for the university in this time period.” Other challenges were exacerbated by Madison’s
geographical location on the Isthmus and campus’s location within the small city. To build more housing facilities, the university had to encroach on Madison’s existing neighborhoods. One of these areas, Madison’s Greenbush neighborhood located south of campus, was a historically Jewish, Italian and Eastern European neighborhood before the city moved residents out for redevelopment. “So the city kind of comes in and says ‘These are unsafe living conditions, we want to redevelop this area to make it safer for the residents,’” Lucchini Butcher said. “Except they kick all those residents out, tear it down and they don’t let those residents come back. So they force these people out into other places. So this happened all across the country in almost every major city during the 1960s [and] 70s and it continues to happen.” Lucchini Butcher acknowledged that while these redevelopments were not made specifically for the university, many of the developments that were built were likely intended to be used by the student population. Today, displacement still occurs as UW-Madison continues to try to accommodate the growing student population’s need for academic spaces and housing facilities. In Oct. 2021, the university announced plans for Levy Hall, a new building for the College of Letters and Science. The building, which will be located at the southwest corner of Park Street and West Johnson Street, will require the demolition of Susan B. Davis Hall and Zoe Bayliss Co-op residence halls.
Our Impact 2021
UW Housing confronts accommodation issues By Sophia Vento COLLEGE NEWS EDITOR
Welcoming the largest class of undergraduate students this academic year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison continues to face obstacles in accommodating students seeking on-campus housing, leaving questions about the future of UW Housing and its growth. With the enrollment of 8,465 first-year students this fall, the university was forced to address overflow issues by converting dens and common spaces into dorm rooms as well as larger rooms into triples and quads. The Lowell Center — a campus conference center and hotel — was also transitioned into a temporary residence hall facility. “Our residence halls opened this fall with 8,469 residents, our largest population ever, and we currently have 8,429 residents,” said UW Housing Director of Marketing and Communications Brendon Dybdahl, underscoring that this number does not include the 200 House Fellows that also live in residence halls. Of those several thousand housing residents, 1,607 currently reside in triples and quads, while 270 students are housed in the Lowell Center. Given these issues in accommodating students, UW-Housing was ultimately unable to provide transfer and exchange students on-campus housing due to increased demand. “Enrollment of new freshmen has grown 34.1% since fall 2013, which is the last year University Housing added any new capacity with the opening of Leopold Hall,” Dybdahl said. “Our approaches have worked for now, and some students really like the social aspect of triples and quads, but they aren’t sustainable ways of managing our spaces.” UW-Madison spokesperson
Meredith McGlone said that although this year’s incoming class was “larger than anticipated,” the university does not expect class sizes to continue to grow. However, of the five incoming classes since the fall of 2017, every incoming class — except the class of 2024 who began attending UW-Madison during the fall of 2020 — has been described as the largest incoming class in the university’s history. The university welcomed a freshman class of 6,610 in the fall of 2017, a class of 6,862 in the fall of 2018 and a class of 7,550 in the fall of 2019 before a smaller class of 7,306 during the fall of 2020. According to McGlone, the university has been intentionally growing the size of the freshman class since 2017. “The university has now surpassed the goal it expected to reach,” said McGlone. On-campus residence halls remain a popular option among first-year students, and UW Housing realizes the necessity to maintain current class sizes and to plan for the long term. “We consistently house between 89% to 93% of firstyear students each year,” Dybdahl said. “That demand is not going away.” Early in 2021, Gov. Tony Evers recommended the construction of a new College of Letters & Science building, falling in line with the university’s goal of the demolition of the Mosse Humanities Building. This proposed facility — Levy Hall — will be constructed on the southwest corner of Park Street and West Johnson Street, resulting in the displacement of two UW Housing facilities, Davis Residence Hall and the Zoe Bayliss Co-Op, after the 2022-23 academic year. “These buildings are relatively small, with only about 80 students total, so the impact isn’t huge, but any loss of beds
has some impact with how tight housing is right now,” Dybdahl said. The UW Housing master plan — which depicts on-campus housing construction and expansion projects between 2004 and 2020 — was last updated in 2008. “There is not a new Housingspecific plan in development, but we take guidance from the 2015 UW-Madison Campus Master Plan,” Dybdahl said, emphasizing that UW Housing continues to look for opportunities to grow and improve spaces as it works through projects such as the Sellery Residence Hall renovations which began in May 2020 and are expected to be completed in August 2023. According to Dybdahl, cur-
ranks among the lowest in the Big Ten for on-campus housing capacity available to undergraduate students. UW-Housing’s primary goals in addressing this growth in students seeking on-campus housing are twofold: reducing density in residence halls and using rooms as they are intended. “In order to do that and still meet our commitment to house all of the first-year students who want to live on campus, University Housing will need to grow,” emphasized Dybdahl. The division is currently working with UW-Madison officials to develop ways in which to make this goal a reality. McGlone stated that several campus areas are working in col-
recent freshman growth without any addition of new residence hall beds in over 8 years, we are looking at options to move this along as quickly as possible.” UW Housing hopes to have a more developed timeline within the next six months. “We’re uniquely positioned to provide a great environment for new students, and growth will allow us to make an even better first-year experience for more students,” Dybdahl said. Regardless, with expectations that next year’s incoming freshman class size is similar to that of this year’s, UW Housing is faced with the same set of issues in housing students. “We’re looking at all of our options for accommodating stu-
GRAPHIC BY ALI LEIB
rent needs to expand on-campus housing do not require the level of planning provided by a housing-specific master plan. “We’ve been putting effort into making our case for more on-campus housing, and hopefully the last few years have clearly illustrated that need to help us move forward,” Dybdal said, noting that UW-Madison
laboration with UW Housing to identify potential options. The university would then need the “necessary” funding from both the UW System and the state of Wisconsin to move ahead with building projects. “New construction within State guidelines often takes a lot of time and planning,” said Dybdahl. “However, given our
dents in the short term while we work towards developing new spaces,” Dybdahl said. A “good number” of triples and quads will likely be utilized as there are not many “immediate’’ housing options available in the short term, said Dybdahl. The future use of the Lowell Center as residence hall space has not been determined.
The real cost of living in UW-Madison residence halls By Kodie Engst THE DAILY CARDINAL
With the University of WisconsinMadison welcoming its largest freshman class in history for the 2022-23 school year, the cost of living in on-campus housing has been at the forefront of minds across the campus community. While 78% of UW-Madison students live off-campus, 22% live in university housing, prompting questions about the cost of living for thousands of students. University Housing Communications
Director Brendon Dybdahl stated that freshman housing plans for two semesters — seven to eight months — can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $14,100, depending on which dining plan a student decides to purchase. The combined mid-tier dining plan is priced between $10,400 and $13,200, while the typical off-campus resident, nationally, spends about $10,781 for an entire year of room and board according to a report from the Education Data Initiative. On-campus housing costs at
COURTESY OF UW HOUSING
UW-Madison are low compared to some other Big Ten schools, a fact that Dybdahl characterizes as typical. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor housing website lists the basic on-campus plan, for example, as ranging from $11,130 to $16,600, depending on room type. These prices are not static. Between 2003 and 2014, increases in price for on-campus housing at four-year colleges outpaced the rise of rent, per the Education Data Initiative. Additionally, the National Center for Education Statistics found that oncampus housing costs at Madison have risen approximately 5.6% since the 2017-18 school year. The students most intimately familiar with this increase are returning housing residents — UW-Madison students that choose to live in on-campus residence halls for additional semesters. Dybdahl says that the retention rate for on-campus housing is between 10% and 12%. These students are not required to choose a dining plan and thus the price range is about $2,000 cheaper on both the low and high end of the on-
campus housing pricing spectrum. House Fellows — students living in dorms acting as “supervisors” of housing residents — are responsible for enforcing rules, organizing activities and handling emergencies. Room fees for House Fellows are completely covered, valued at about $9,600, according to Dybdahl. In addition to free room and board, House Fellows are slotted to make a little over $3,000 dollars as a stipend, varying depending on experience, for the 2022-23 school year. They also receive a meal plan valued at $1,260, as well as an on-campus resident discount on food around campus. Because off-campus housing options vary so widely, it’s hard to characterize, but Dybdahl emphasizes that on-campus housing is an ultimately valuable experience for students. “Generally, when factoring in food, amenities, utilities, location and services provided, we think living in residence halls provides a lot of value to students and compares well to off-campus,” Dybdahl said.
Our Impact 2021
The rise of luxury housing OPINION
By Addison Lathers EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
When a developer proposed “Hub II”, a seven-story student apartment building with a rooftop swimming pool to be built on Langdon Street, then-student and District 8 Alder Sally Rohrer remembered being “sketched out.” “It felt so strange when something’s happening that’s going to affect students, but it’s not being advertised to them. It wasn’t being widely talked about on campus,” Rohrer recalled of the 2019 project proposal. “There was a lot of sketchy business with the developers getting students to testify in favor of the development. ” The 124-unit building — slated to be nicknamed “The Langdon” — was designed to occupy the empty lot at 126 Langdon St. and serve as Core Spaces LLC’s third student apartment building in Madison alongside the James and the Hub. Its location would situate the apartments within a historical downtown neighborhood between UW-Madison fraternity and sorority houses. Sure enough, when Greek life heard about the project, many were less than pleased. The rest of us looked on with surprise and confusion. The idea of a “Hub II” seemed too insane to be true. Students and Langdon residents raised environmental concerns and questioned the project’s lack of affordable housing, while the UW Panhellenic Association drafted a letter outlining recommendations on how to improve the project. A board member of the neighboring sorority Alpha Chi Omega raised privacy issues, as the Hub II’s upper stories would have full view into the sorority house’s windows. “We found out, once you started telling people what was happening and talking to Greek life, that the majority of people didn’t want this to happen. It was one of those experiences where you realize that stuff like this can fly under the radar, unless people start talking about it,” Roher said. In the end, the question of cost wasn’t what put the project on hold. The Madison Plan Commission ultimately voted to reject the Hub II construction proposal, pointing to safety concerns and an “unrefined aesthetic.” “Langdon is a very special street in this city and I think even though it is not a local [historic] district, people view it as a local district,” Commissioner Bradley Cantrell said at the time. “I don’t think this project is there yet … I’m struggling with the rhythm and the mass of this building that we’re looking at.” But the idea of Hub II didn’t just go away. It resurfaced not two years later as “Oliv Madison,” a new student housing project from Core Spaces that is slated to offer 10% of its beds at a discounted rate. A discounted bed is expected to be rented at the average price of $740. As students combat the idea of another luxury apartment building on campus, a question arises: Where did these overpriced buildings come from? A national issue Core Spaces is surely making its mark on Madison’s downtown, but UW-Madison students aren’t its only target. Core Spaces is one of the nation’s leading developers, owners and operators of luxury properties in educational markets. As a
vertically integrated company, Core Spaces purchases land, develops plans, builds and then rents its spaces to students directly. By managing its own supply chain, which is also owned by the company, Core Spaces cuts out the middleman. It currently owns and/or manages 37 properties nationwide totaling over 16,000 units and beds and has a pipeline (properties in development or acquisition processes) of over 33,000 units and beds. On Nov. 4, Core Spaces announced a partnership with Ares Management Corporation to acquire a portfolio of five apartment buildings valued together at over $400 million. The news serves as the “initial transaction” for the partnership, as the two entities will further seek to grow their respective student housing portfolios centering on college and university markets across the country. “We’re excited to partner with Core Spaces and add these five newly constructed properties to Ares’ strong and growing U.S. multifamily portfolio, which today includes approximately 25,000 units across over 85 properties,” said David Roth, the head of U.S. real estate equity at Ares Real Estate Group. “This transaction highlights Ares’ ability to transact across the risk/return spectrum.” Meaning, student housing is a rising market, and more and more investors are becoming interested in getting their own slice of the luxury dorm pie. The opportunity is attracting international attention too — Core Spaces formed a partnership with two global institutional investors in February with the intention of acquiring over $1 billion of assets and operating a “diversified portfolio of student-oriented residential real estate in leading university markets across the United States.” “Despite the global pandemic, student housing operating fundamentals have remained strong, and we continue to see a bright future for the sector,” said Founder and CEO of Core Spaces Marc Lifshin. Their projects extend from coast to coast, with multiple cities finding themselves home to one or more Core Spaces properties. In September, the LLC secured construction financing for the development of its second property serving students at the University of Southern California — Hub on Campus II. Some of its other locations include Hub Lexington (catering to the University of Kentucky), Oliv Tucson (University of Arizona) and the Hub Tuscaloosa (University of Alabama). We can’t afford the next generation of student housing, but that won’t stop it from being built coast to coast. While student groups in Madison have been quick to raise the alarm on the LLC’s new developments, other cities have provided incentives to the company. The State College’s Borough Council, which is a town dominated by Pennsylvania State University, passed a resolution in October approving a performance bond for Core Spaces. The Daily Collegian reported that the project will utilize the borough’s Green Certified Incentive, which enables LEED-certified or equivalent buildings the ability to reduce required minimum
parking at the development site. A bond amount of $191,000 was passed unanimously by the council to benefit the construction of Hub State College. The Berkeley problem To understand what exactly is going down in Madison’s student housing market, we can look at another city that’s had to face a rapidly changing skyline: Berkeley, California. The Berkeley City Council passed a plan in 2012 allowing for seven height exemptions for its downtown area — an area that was otherwise capped at 75 feet. In 2014, a glimmer of hope emerged; a ballot measure was introduced that would require developments over 60 feet tall to include affordable-housing options, project labor agreements and improvements to public infrastructure. The measure was rejected. Why scare away developers with unnecessary restrictions? After all, Berkey was facing an issue that Madison is no stranger to. Due to decades of underdevelopment, the city was left with a sizable housing shortage made worse by an ever-growing student population. Core Spaces submitted an application on Sept. 1 for the final spot among Berkeley’s allowed height exemptions. The company proposed a 283-unit development called Hub on Campus Berkeley, and if it’s approved, the Hub would be the tallest building allowed according to the city’s 2012 plan. The company will likely face an uphill climb; previous developments faced sharp opposition from residents regarding the possible impact on the city’s appearance. The first project to seek approval under the plan was debated at 37 city meetings over the course of three years and ultimately fell apart. Core Spaces believes that pushback will lessen as time goes by. Since the first project at 2211 Harold Way fell through, another proposal, a 12-story mixed-use project, was met with encouragement by the Berkeley Zoning Adjustment Board. “That was approved without appeal,” Jonathan Kubow, senior vice president of development at Core Spaces, told the San Francisco Business Times. “I think that’s just kind of an indicator — perhaps earlier we wouldn’t have expected any tall building in the downtown [area] to proceed without appeal.” The local dilemma The sweep of luxury student housing being built and expanded across the country is like a rising tide in slow motion; you can see it coming, and you can fight it and warn your local elected leaders, but in the end, the wave will come crashing down. It’s easy to blame students for the situation that downtown Madison finds itself in. Beloved businesses and places of community-gathering will be swept under the rug or relocated to match the wills of out-of-state
students willing to spend big bucks on their first apartment. These same students will try to sublet their shared bedroom for the discounted price of “only $1,000 dollars a month!” while they spend a semester abroad. But blaming students for the modern concrete boxes taking over Madison’s skyline won’t solve the city’s housing shortage. Developers wouldn’t have come knocking if there wasn’t an already-prevalent supplydemand problem. The city of Madison and the university’s housing division will continue to struggle to meet the demands of its growing population as long as growth is left to international investors and faceless companies. As evidenced, these growing pains come with a difficult decision. We can lean on these companies and investors to “solve” the problem for us, pricing out an entire population of residents and low-income students along the way. Or, we can guard these plots of land and storefronts in the name of history while allowing swaths of students to struggle to find any housing at all. It’s a difficult choice, and it’s not one that will be made easy. Housing must be built. Still, Oliv Madison’s “equitable” beds are not the answer to meeting affordable housing needs. Indeed, any developers that skirt conversations of affordable housing should be treated with suspicion. “We’ve been told not to use affordability as a word,” stated Mark Goehausen, senior development manager at Core Spaces. But Core Spaces may have gotten closer to the solution than anyone else yet. Requiring that developers dedicate 10%, 20% and even 30% of units to be affordable housing should be the norm. Putting pressure on each individual company that eyes State Street will never work in the long run; our local government should serve as a unified front and be clear in its requirements for building developments aimed at “young professionals.” The Berkeley City Council passed by an opportunity to let developers in the door while shaping its affordable housing options and assisting students and residents in the process, but we haven’t missed ours. The Plan Commission and Common Council must set standards on how luxury student apartments are built and marketed, and until then, the burden is on residents and students to defend our neighborhoods.
Mapping our Neighborhoods 6 • Our Impact 2021
dailycardinal.com • 7
Located in the Langdon Street neighborhood, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s “Greek row” is well known for its fraternities and sororities. The area is a nationally designated historic district and was first built in the 1800s.
DRAKE WHITE-BERGEY/THE DAILY CARDINAL
Dorms are represented by two neighborhoods on campus: Lakeshore, which lines Lake Mendota, and Southeast, which borders Madison’s downtown area along Park St., W Dayton and W Johnson. Almost all freshmen opt to live on campus during their freshman year, and they pay steep rents to share a small room with one to four other students.
Off-Campus Mifflin. Camp Randall. The “Sophomore Slums.” Off-campus neighborhoods surround the University of Wisconsin-Madison and can be represented by houses, apartments and townhouses. Come for the cheap rent, stay for the tailgates.
IRENA CLARKOWSKI/THE DAILY CARDINAL
Characterized by a $1000 rent minimum, luxury student apartments dot W Gorham St, State Street and University Ave. Well-known names include the James, the Hub, Lucky and the Towers on State.
Our Impact 2021
Businesses reflect on loss of State St spaces By Charlie Hildebrand STAFF WRITER
Over the course of the past decade, as the city’s population has increased, Madison’s historic State Street area has experienced an influx of investment from large business interests. This is perhaps most visible by the establishment of new chain storefronts, such as Cane’s Chicken or Target, but is also present in the establishment of new luxury apartment complexes which cater predominantly to UW-Madison students and young professionals. “There have been a lot of highrise apartments going in, and we just felt bad for that area of State Street where a lot of small businesses are getting moved out,” Red Rock Saloon Director of Marketing Bailey Bauer said. “It would provide housing, but it is just more expensive housing that college students will have to pay for to live in.” Currently, the Madison Common Council is reviewing a plan proposing a ten-story luxury apartment building at the intersection of State Street and West Gorham Street, where Red Rock Saloon was previously located before the bar was forced to move. The proposed building, referred to as the Oliv Madison, contains 451 units with 1063 total beds and is anticipated to be similar to other luxury apartments in the area such as the Hub and the James. Core Spaces, the Chicago realestate development firm proposing the project, purchased several locally well-established state street businesses with plans to demolish them in order to construct the apartment complex. The project has not been received positively by the State
Street community, many of whom to have better quality materials or through this with them before,” are concerned with potential more windows, that sort of thing,” Verveer said. changes to State Street, citing both Verveer said. A Room of One’s Own, a the design of the apartment as well In relation to the Oliv Madison, bookstore previously located on as the removal of several small Verveer commented that losing West Gorham Street was one of businesses as concerns regarding long-standing community busi- several stores that were forced the project. nesses as a result of constructing to relocate after their landlord District 4 Alder Michael the building is a regrettable real- sold their building to Core Verveer shares many of these con- ity.. Ultimately, Verveer explains Spaces. A spokesman associcerns. Verveer oversaw the plan- that relocating these businesses ated with A Room of One’s Own ning of Hub Madison, a similar was inevitable. expressed their discontent with high-rise luxury apartment locat“It certainly isn’t optimal and losing their State Street location ed near campus that was also built nobody wants to move, but I knew to the Daily Cardinal. by Core Spaces. right away when this was pro“[We were] surprised, sad and Verveer explained in an inter- posed to me that it was going to be scrambling to find a new place. view with the Daily Cardinal that a huge concern of these small busi- We hoped to stay downtown but the end result of the Hub Madison nesses being forced to relocate. didn’t find any spaces that would was noticeably different from the When the Hub was proposed, sev- work for us,” A Room of One’s proposed plan. Verveer went on eral State Street restaurants were Own said in an email. “We did to explain that he feels that the forced to relocate, so I’ve been not have any say in the process Core Spaces and would not development have chosen to detracts relocate.” from the A Room State Street of One’s Own area. believes that “I was gentrification horrified at plays a role how the Hub in the stores ended up in being sold to terms of its Core Spaces. design. It A Room of looked a hell One’s Own of a lot betexplained that ter on paper the bookstore than it ended was “sad and up looking frustrated that being built, some longespecially standing local the blank businesses in walls of historic buildthe tower. ings were Whenever pushed out.” I’m on The bookGilman or store relocated State, I get to Atwood sick to my Avenue and stomach. I opened in feel like it’s early October. my fault that Red Rock PHOTO COURTESY OF FLIKR Saloon is in we didn’t force them Some small businesses are getting pushed off of State St for development. the process
of relocating across the street to what was previously Hopcat, a bar and grill that closed in early 2020. Unlike A Room of One’s Own, Red Rock Saloon’s relocation was a considerably more pleasant process. Bauer explained that the bar expressed interest in changing locations long before Core Spaces bought them out. “I have worked at Red Rock for five years and I want to say that we had known about it for about 2 or 3 years now, so we just started looking for another place,” Bauer said. “With COVID-19 and Hopcat closing, it worked out to be a good thing. We are actually really excited for what we think will be a better location.” Despite the ease of relocating, Baur expressed skepticism when asked about Core Spaces’ proposed Oliv Madison building. Core Spaces is responding to the need for more affordable housing by dedicating 10% of Oliv Madison’s beds to students from lower-income families. Verveer explains that Core Spaces will work with the Office of Student Financial Aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to set standards for eligibility. Verveer is skeptical about the reduced rates, noting that details about the lower rent prices have not been agreed upon. “Trying to figure out what’s equitable for those students and how they might qualify is part of the issue,” Verveer said. Core Spaces declined to answer questions regarding the reduced rental rates. The Madison Plan Commission will meet with Core Spaces on Nov. 8 to vote on their final land use approval. If Oliv Madison is approved by the City of Madison, Core Spaces is expected to begin construction in the Spring of 2022.
What are some of the future changes for State Street area? By Francesca Pica STAFF WRITER
In the past decade, the city of Madison has grown substantially, having gained an additional 75,361 residents with much of that growth being centered in the downtown area. Such changes have caused the local community to question what the historic area will look like as Madison continues to grow as a city. As State Street looks to its future, two proposals in particular look to transform much of Madison’s retail, dining and cultural center. Change #1: Incorporating a pedestrian-only area One of the two proposed changes potentially coming to state street is to develop the 400-600 blocks of the area into a pedestrian mall. Pedestrian malls are streets lined with storefronts that only allow foot traffic, closing off all access via automobiles, including buses. The proposal aims to turn the streets into a large walkway inaccessible to cars for pedestrians and allow businesses to take up more space outside. Additionally, it would facilitate the planting of trees as well as create more space for public artwork. The pedestrian mall proposal
would not complicate current plans to create bus routes on the upper part of State Street, as no routes are slated to be built along the 400 through 600 blocks. The plan, as proposed by nonprofit community planning organization Downtown Madison, Inc., is modelled after successful pedestrian malls such as those located on Pearl St. in Boulder, Colorado and Church St. in Burlington, Vermont. In January, the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board advocated for removing vehicles from blocks 400 through 600 on State Street for this very purpose.According to the board, turning part of State Street into a pedestrian mall will have a profoundly positive impact on Madison’s local economy by encouraging individuals to shop at and dine on state street. “Madison should multiply this successful effort by removing buses and cabs from State Street and letting pedestrians take over,” the board wrote. “Doing so will bring back business and jobs. It will excite shoppers, diners and attract more tourists and events.” Alder Michael Verveer of District 4, an area which constitutes much of downtown
Madison including State Street, similarly has voiced his support for a pedestrian mall. According to Verveer, there is widespread support among businesses for the proposal. “We have to be very creative and think outside the box and try to figure out ways to get to ‘yes’ and make this work,” Verveer said. He added that Madison merchants “overwhelmingly support the campaign to turn State Street into a promenade. There absolutely is widespread support.” Change #2: Even more luxury housing Madison’s downtown skyline will experience a controversial makeover in the coming years. Developers are looking to construct housing units on State Street, with additional apartment complexes likely to be constructed along a part of the upper end of the street. The housing units will be constructed to address Madison’s housing shortage. The median price of a house has risen to $345,000 due to the growing population, according to a report by the Realtors Association of South Central Wisconsin. Madison’s vacancy rate has also grown slimmer and slimmer, currently sitting
at 3.4% and trailing behind what is considered a “healthy rate” for cities to maintain. Developer Core Spaces of Chicago is offering to turn much of the 300 block of State Street into housing. Core Spaces’s proposed apartment complex is expected to be ten stories in height and contain 481 total housing units, including 404 market-rate units and 77 designated “affordable workforce” units. The project is also expected to provide 278 parking spaces and a total of 20,375 square feet of retail space reserved for businesses. According to Core Spaces senior development manager Mark Goehausen, the redevelopment is expected to attract more students and young professionals to the area. “Core continues to be a very big believer in the city of Madison and the market for student housing in town,” said Goehausen. “This site, being centrally located between the university and the Capitol building, should draw both student and young-professional residents.” Tim Kamps, chair of the Mifflin District of Capitol Neighborhoods, voiced his support for the development of housing in the down-
town area but also raised concerns about the large size of the project. “The workforce and affordable units being proposed are a huge positive,” Kamps said. “But there will be concerns around displacement of businesses, especially those on Gorham Street, as well as the size and height.” Ald. Verveer voiced his support for the redevelopment, noting that the project’s inclusion of low-cost housing and alternative locations for displaced businesses “will be absolutely critical.” “It’s a bold, ambitious plan for almost the entirety of a very significant Downtown city block,” said Verveer. The proposed redevelopment would be Core Spaces of Chicago’s third student housing project in Madison. The developer’s previous projects are luxury apartments including The Hub at N. Frances St. and The James at W. Gorham St., constructed in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Core Spaces’s proposal is indicative of the growing population of both the city and the University of Wisconsin. As the number of students enrolled at the university has continued to rise, developers look to State Street to provide more housing.
Our Impact 2021
Financial breakdown of living on Langdon By Beth Shoop STAFF WRITER
Parties. Dinners. Dates. The costs of joining a fraternity or sorority can extend beyond basic member dues when it comes to choosing to live within the Greek life houses. Vice President of Finances at Pi Beta Phi, Meredith Buenz, is responsible for creating the sorority budget and acting as a financial guide for new members. Further, Buenz has taken steps to make the financial aspect of living in a sorority house more transparent. President of Pi Beta Phi, Audrey Koehler has had first hand experience with the financial side of the sorority experience as a chapter member and resident of the Pi Beta Phi house. Alumni relations officer
our house mom, cleaning people, maintenance people and part of it goes towards a fund for new construction projects. There are also additional dues on top of this price that are mandatory for all sorority members living in and outside of the house. Bluhm: Yes, so number one, Bluhm the priciest cost area is the rent. Usually, it’s between $800 to $1000 a month which adds up to around $9,000 to $10,000 a year. The second most expensive element are the dues which are required by all members, including those who are not living in the house. You mentioned dues as being an outside cost of living in the house, what do the dues cover? Are there any other expenses required by members?
a lot of basic needs. Cleaning supplies flies out the door, so a lot of money must be spent on buying more. Usually, a portion of our dues goes to a portion of an event. For example, for a date party or a formal, your dues will cover dinner, but you have to cover a hotel room. So, there’s normally chipping in extra costs but oftentimes we try to help each other out so nobody is missing experiences. Honestly, if I totaled up the cost it would probably be around $800 to $1,000 a year, just based on extra experiences. The costs of Greek life have prevented some students from joining, but I know some fraternities and sororities have been implementing scholarships to aid the financial burden. Does
but internally, it’s primarily needbased aid. That is handled very privately because we don’t want to make anyone feel ostracized because of finances. Bluhm: There are always Bluhm alumni who want to put new and old members first, so they give a lot of opportunities scholarship-wise and also through basic donations. We definitely have some need-based situations and so those guys are put first. In a merit-based scholarship setting, it’s always the most qualified. Does the size of the house, meaning the actual building size and number of members, alter the cost of living and joining? Koehler: Absolutely. We need Koehler to maintain a certain number of people and dues amount to fund everything. It has been a trend on this campus for older members to drop, which means you’ll frequently see fewer seniors than the pledge class originally started with. The number of people who drop determines how many new members we can take in. We must reach a quota for recruitment that is set by Panhellenic, but also internally because our chapter budget depends on a certain number of members paying dues. Bluhm: Definitely. In some Bluhm scenarios, it’s a matter of working it out amongst yourselves. Bigger rooms usually require more money from the renters and that can be determined internally. Typically, bigger houses with bigger parties end up costing more money. Were the financial aspects of living in the house clearly outlined as you rushed? Koehler: There are some Koehler websites where you would go if you were interested in rushing. There’s a lot of information outlined on this page that goes into
cost information. It is updated annually, and it holds primary recruitment financial information. This is something that, when I went through rush in 2019, my family and I looked at. We sought it out and were able to find it easily accessible. The information definitely isn’t being broadcasted on social media, but it is public. Buenz: I was a freshman when Buenz I rushed in 2019. Since then, the Panhellenic website has gotten a lot better through realizing you need to be transparent about the financial aspects of Greek life. They now have all of the financial breakdowns, but when I was going through rush, they did not. [During] my freshman year, you weren’t really supposed to talk about anything financially related, meaning you weren’t supposed to discuss how much the sorority costs. My thinking was that you should know how much joining something you’re interested in is going to cost. So, this year I did a presentation for the chapter on the costs of everything and made them memorize all these numbers so that if they got questions, they could sufficiently answer them in an effort to be transparent. Bluhm: I remember every Bluhm fraternity I went to, questions regarding the financial aspects of joining were always asked immediately. I feel like right away, the information is disclosed. From what I have experienced and what I have heard from others, the price you pay has been essentially exactly what you thought it was going to be. If anyone is interested in rushing, it’s kind of like that’s just a decision that you have to make over time, but the information is explicitly given to you. It’s not kept secret until later.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SCHEIDT
We talked to three members of greek houses to see what it actually costs to live in a greek home for UW. of Phi Kappa Sigma, Sullivan Bluhm, joined the fraternity in the spring semester of his freshman year and has been living in the house since the fall of 2021. The Daily Cardinal sat down with Buenz, Koehler and Bluhm to break down the costs of living in their chapter houses. This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity. Would you be able to go through and break down the costs of living in a fraternity or sorority? Preferably listing and explaining the areas of costs pertaining to living in the house? house Buenz: The cost of room and board for the semester is $4,260. The price is specifically for my chapter, which is Pi Phi. The total includes everything housing-related starting with our rent for the rooms. It also pays our chef where we get around 10 meals a week plus grab-andgo snacks. The price also covers
Koehler: Our dues are considKoehler ered all inclusive. To name a few events — formals, date parties and dinner after Monday chapter meetings — are all paid for with dues. There are some extra things that aren’t budgeted for within the dues such as big-little gifts, apparel and parent events, but usually if there are expenses, they are optional. Buenz: There are approxiBuenz mately $400 of dues on top of the $4,260 for members living in the house. This means the dues [for live-in members] end up costing around $300 less than what they would be if you are not living in the house. Our dues are allinclusive, but I will say we often do fundraising minimums. Last year we did a sweatshirt philanthropy where [members] could either sell or buy a sweatshirt. Bluhm: The cost of dues usuBluhm ally ranges between $350 and $650 a semester. Our dues cover
your house offer any of these? If so, how are the recipient’s chosen? Also, where does the money come from? Buenz: In our own chapter, Buenz we’re working on more scholarships, because within Pi Phi Wisconsin, alpha, there aren’t any [merit-based scholarships] right now. We’re asking the question of, “where does that money come from?” That is what we need to work through with the National chapter. There’s a scholarship fund where you can apply for national scholarships, meaning Pi Beta Phi nationals, or you can apply to scholarships through Panhellenic. The Panhellenic scholarship funds come from fundraising and donations. Koehler: We do provide [appliKoehler cation based] opportunities. For example, Panhellenic just selected their scholarship recipients. So those are merit-based options,
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Greek Life 10
Our Impact 2021
What happens when a UW fraternity dies? By Jane McCauley STAFF WRITER
The pandemic has forced Greek life at the University of WisconsinMadson to shift heavily over the past two years, and while some fraternities and sororities have been able to maintain engagement and popularity, others have struggled to grow and gain new members. The pandemic placed pressure on many smaller chapters by making it more difficult for new members to join, even putting some at risk of shutting down. Senior Cal Floyd opened up about Psi Upsilon at UW-Madison, and its challenges this semester with finding incoming freshmen to rush at the beginning of the year. He also explained why the fraternity’s decision to rush online ultimately made this semester Psi Upsilon’s last. As the Vice President of Member Education for the Interfraternity Council, or IFC, Floyd also discussed what drew him to Psi Upsilon specifically as a freshman
and why watching this fraternity leave UW Madison is so difficult for him as a senior. This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity. Why did you choose Psi Upsilon as freshman and what aspects of the fraternity make it stand out? In my particular case, and with other smaller chapters that we deal with, the experience is much different and it’s much more focused on cultivating genuine relationships with the guys in your chapter and making really good connections with the sororities that we partner with. The way I’ve seen it is there’s a lot of bad that’s associated with the Greek community and [for] good reason. However, I’ve seen on IFC that there is no other opportunity on a college campus to sit down with 1,500 men and speak frankly about sexual violence in our community. Because it is a community, you have more agency to look introspectively at the centers of an issue in our community that we need to deal with.
It’s kind of hard to amass that same level of getting people together to listen and talk about something that’s meaningful if you don’t have a community that’s close. So I do think that there is a lot wrong with [Greek life], but I also think [Psi Upsilon] offers some real opportunities for having conversations like that and doing good on campus. Why is Psi U being forced to shut down? Once COVID [came] around, we really struggled with the online recruitment and a lot of the more active members decided that because of COVID, they didn’t want to participate anymore. So after two semesters of really getting no one, we gave one last push this semester, and we just didn’t get enough people for it to make sense to keep going. We’re at a point where unfortunately, we have to shut down the chapter. Why did Psi Upsilon choose to do online rushing and how did it compare to other fraternities that chose to do in-person rushing?
[We] did have some chapters who opted to stick around and have an in-person rush, but we decided as a chapter from the very beginning that we were going to listen to the university and play by the book. Unfortunately, it really hurt us, which is too bad. There’s one or two [fraternities] that have been able to really integrate well into the online rush and are successful and doing great, but there’s a good handful of us that really fell through the cracks. The way [online rush] worked was you had multiple rooms on Zoom, and as a freshman, you could pick and choose which chapter you wanted to pop into the room and chat with. Last spring, for example we had one person who came into our room. Usually for in-person rush, you have 100 members, and you whittle it down to about 15. Learning from the experience of this semester, would you rather have chosen in-person rushing rather than online looking back? I don’t think so. You can’t control
what happens during a pandemic, and hindsight is 2020. There is a lot we would have done differently, but for the most part, I think we did everything that we were supposed to do. What are the future plans for Psi Upsilon and what does it mean to you that it’s shutting down? The emphasis now has been focusing on seeing each other and doing as much as possible, because there are still a lot of us that are key on campus. Eventually, the chapter is going to want to rejoin at Wisconsin, but for now, it’s turning over to other hands next year. It was a long process of sort of accepting that this was the end just because I had gotten so much out of it. That was tough, but at the end of the day, I’m living with five of my best friends, and so I’m grateful that I’ve gotten that out of it and the connections that I made because of this. So it’s really been special. It’s just hard to sort of say goodbye.
‘A toxic environment’: The other costs of Greek life housing By Nicole Herzog STAFF WRITER
The University of WisconsinMadison student housing scene is peppered with run-down apartments, decade-old houses and historic dorm buildings. Yet, tucked away behind the bustling State Street businesses lies Langdon street, a neighborhood lined with picturesque mansions, a lakeside view and dozens of students involved in one overarching organization: Greek life. Participating in Greek life is typically known to be a sizable expenditure — choosing to live in a fraternity house can cost anywhere from $4,200 to $18,000 a year, according to the Interfraternity Council. According to the Panhellenic Association, living in a sorority house can range from $7,700 to $11,980 a year. In addition to live-in costs, semesterly membership dues, which also range in price, are required of all members. But for UW-Madison senior Maya Cherins, living in a sorority house during her sophomore year presented challenges that were greater than cost. Cherins said that her experiences in the sorority house created a detrimental situation for her mental health, particularly because conversations among members were often centered around diet and eating disorder culture. “I remember there were weeks leading up to [spring break] where people would talk about their spring break diets,” Cherins said. “And I wasn’t on a spring break diet, because that’s not who I am.” Cherins was constantly surrounded by such discussions, and she noted that the lack of alone time while living in the house contributed to the negative experience. “It was just really hard to be in that environment where everyone’s comparing them-
selves the entire time,” she said. Cherins eventually decided to drop her sorority at the end of her sophomore year after being sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everybody was devastated to be sent home because of COVID and everything,” Cherins said. “But at the same time, I was like, the sooner I can get out of this house, the better. I just thought it was a pretty toxic environment. “ Both Cherins and senior Molly Kehoe, who is also a former member of Greek life, said they were able to meet their best friends through Greek life. However, they said the social atmosphere of their sororities also fostered drama and cliques between women. Social media often contributes to problems of exclusion, according to Kehoe. “I think it just creates a lot of toxicity to pretend like you have the greatest friend group of all time,” Kehoe said. “The whole narrative of, ‘I absolutely love these lifelong sisters’ — I think it’s just a bad message to send that you have this perfect friendship with all these people. That’s not realistic, and it makes people feel like shit.” Despite advertising itself as a place for diversity and inclusion, Kehoe said the Greek life system in general systematically excludes many women, which can contribute to feelings of cliquiness within the houses. “It’s very ‘one size fits some,’” Kehoe said. “If you’re not white, wealthy and straight, it’s not meant for you.” ‘A heavy drinking scene’ The promise of a buzzing social life draws many to become involved with Greek life, according to Cherins and Kehoe. “I think the social aspect of it is great if that’s the scene you want to be in, because it’s very much a heavy drinking scene,” Cherins said.
Prior to living in her sorority house, Cherins enjoyed the social aspect of Greek life. However, she said the pressure to frequently attend parties and drink created a stressful situation upon living in the house. “By the time I was living in the house, I felt like there was definitely the pressure to go out and go to these fraternities and get drunk and all this stuff,” Cherins said. “It just felt like a horrible cycle.” For Kehoe, a similar pressure made her feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in her sorority due to her introverted personality. “Beyond the appearance on social media, I felt like I had to embody this persona that I wasn’t,” Kehoe said. “And they definitely don’t tell you that during recruitment.” Aside from the peer pressure, the environment of fraternity parties is one that has become associated with sexual assault and rape culture over the years on a national scale. “I’ve known way too many people in Greek life and in college in general that have been survivors of sexual assault,” Cherins said. “All of which have been survivors of sexual assault to people in fraternities. And it’s just disgusting.” Kehoe reiterated that the atmosphere creates pressure and discomfort. “It’s just this blind reality of people trying to force you into social environments that they perceive to be good for their own social standing, when it’s not for everyone else,” Kehoe added. Academics The average GPA for fraternities and sororities (including multicultural organizations) is a 3.533 in comparison to the all campus GPA average of 3.527, according to UW-Madison Student Affairs. Yet, Cherins said the highly social atmosphere of her
sorority house made study- of traditional Interfraternity ing difficult. Council and Panhellenic “I ended up always being in Association Greek life. [the sorority house study room] Throughout the piece, with friends,” Cherins said. Cherins, Kehoe and Jay dis“So it was a hard environment cuss the problematic history to actually get work done. If I of Greek life, including racist wanted to do work at the house, roots, hazing traditions, sexual it had to be work that I could do assault in Greek life and the while being social.” perpetuation of eating disorder On the other hand, Kehoe culture in sororities. said the ability to easily form The article ultimately calls study groups based on soror- to abolish — rather than reform ity membership was one of the — Greek life at UW-Madison benefits of being involved with because the national system her organization. promotes an exclusionary envi“I could just message on our ronment, historically rooted in Facebook and be like, ‘Is any- white supremacy. one taking this class?’ And then Cherins emphasized that instantly have a study group,” while UW-Madison Greek life Kehoe said. “ Even though I may be unproblematic in itself, didn’t even know those people, the overall system of Greek life I would just become friends historically perpetuates racism, with them by nature of know- classism and sexism. ing their names.” “The point isn’t that I had Current sorority member a terrible experience,” Kehoe and junior Kate O’Leary said said. “The point is that it’s a terher sorority has allowed her to rible system. And you should thrive academically based on be able to step outside of yourthe academic benefits offered self and say, ‘I care about the to chapter members through system and the way it impacts study plans. people outside of it, more than I “Academics are well sup- care about my own social life.’” ported through my sorority Overall, Kehoe said the having different study plans issues within Greek life based on academic achieve- houses often outweigh the ment and standings within positive aspects. the chapter,” O’Leary said. “I think you’ll find fun, “Having mandatory academic amazing social people in Greek study halls, tracking my study life, but there are so many other hours and having specific ways to do it,” Kehoe said. “It’s sponsors for older members expensive and it’s problematic. with a similar major who I can So if you can avoid it, just don’t rely on allow me to achieve do it.” my goals with grades and career trajectories.” A larger issue After dropping their sororities, Cherins and Kehoe, along with senior Maggie Jay, published an article in Bell Magazine calling for the PHOTO COURTESY OF BETSY OSTERBERGER a b o l i s h m e n t Former and current Greek life members reflect.
Our Impact 2021 11 l
Re-examining the ‘Sophomore Slums’ By Tyler Katzenberger STAFF WRITER
Student housing just south of the University of WisconsinMadison campus in the College Court, Spring Street, Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods has long been affectionately referred to as the “sophomore slums.” To many students, the lowrise apartments and older homes in the area are a step below offerings near University Avenue, State Street and Langdon Street, where highend apartments and spacious houses are far more common. But the students who live there aren’t sure the name fits the neighborhood. “It’s a funny name, but I wouldn’t refer to it as a slum,” said Kayleigh Westmore, a sophomore who lives in the Greenbush neighborhood. “It’s just more of a basic neighborhood [and] there’s a lot of upperclassmen who live around here, renting out whole houses.” “I wouldn’t say that it’s derogatory, but I’d certainly say it’s an exaggeration,” said Noah Fellinger, a sophomore living on Fahrenbrook Court. “I’ve seen places elsewhere in areas outside the ‘sophomore slums’ that are much worse for much higher rent.” Westmore and Fellinger’s views are shared by most other residents, many of whom cite location as one of the biggest appeals. The neighborhood has a high
walkability score compared to the rest of Madison, and key locations such as Engineering Hall, Bascom Hill, the Nicholas Recreation Center and Union South are within a 20-minute walk. For Allie Eichman, a sophomore and resident of College Park, walkability means she can get to classes and feel comfortable walking alone at any hour of the day. “I really like it,” said Eichman. “It’s a nice distance to classes, especially considering I could be living somewhere way down University Avenue. I like that at night I feel pretty comfortable walking home by myself, especially down Park Street because it’s a pretty busy road.” Another major housing consideration for students is affordability. According to a 2020 UW-Madison Geography Department study, affordability is “very” or “extremely” important to 60.4% of student renters. Most students define “affordable” as anywhere from $500-$749, but with the median off-campus price per bedroom at $938.23 per month, balancing price with quality and proximity to campus is challenging. “I would say housing really isn’t affordable for a lot of students,” said Fellinger. “Unless you have parents that can help you out or have copious amounts of aid, housing near campus isn’t affordable for the average student.” Apartments and houses meeting the “affordable” definition of
under $750 per bedroom are far more common in the sophomore slums, with some rents as low as $450 for students who choose to share a room. Low rent doesn’t mean lower quality housing, either, a fact understood even by students living outside the area. “In general, I have pretty positive feelings towards the neighborhood,” said Carter Chojnacki, a junior living near Langdon Street. “It’s a decent neighborhood where you can get a discount and be close to lots of people. I think it’s more affordable when you compare it to some [buildings in] the higher-end neighborhoods, like The James and Lucky.” While new, higher-priced properties near University Avenue, Langdon Street and State Street offer hot tubs, fitness centers and outdoor lounges, students in the “sophomore slums” feel these amenities are unnecessary for college students and are only included to drive up prices. In fact, students say the high-rise boom furthers class and wealth divisions on a campus with a long history of elitism. “The one thing I’ve noticed about Madison is that there’s some very distinct class differences, and perhaps the most noticeable distinction of class differences is where people live and the type of places they live in,” said Chojnacki. “I would say it feels classist, yeah,” said Fellinger. “When you look at the sophomore slums
and other areas on campus, it really is just a juxtaposition to nicer, luxury high rises only available to students with access to lots of wealth.” Luxury developers and Madison politicians argue more units will drive down costs, but as housing prices continue to rise in Madison, students increasingly doubt this claim. In a January interview with WORT, District 8 Alder Juliana Bennet explained the housing dilemma students face. “You have a choice between an overpriced, overly-bougie and just overly expensive place, or you have another option that’s more affordable, but run-down,” said Bennett. “Students shouldn’t have to make this choice.” Yet students are forced to make this choice, and those who choose the sophomore slums still deal with quality and access issues. Many houses in the area, especially in the Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods, come with odd quirks or chronic issues. “There’s a lot of broken stuff in here,” said Westmore when asked about her house’s quality. “When we moved in, it was kind of filthy. But it’s affordable, so it does the job.” Residents also struggle with access to healthy, fresh and affordable food. The closest grocery store for most students is Fresh, but for many, the high prices forge a love-hate relationship. “Fresh is just so expensive
compared to other places. It’s pretty ridiculous,” said Eichman. Eichman and other students want to see a new grocer with more affordable prices and a location closer to their neighborhood. They argue that both the demand and space are present and that the only barrier is grocers not wanting to build a store. “Oh yeah, I definitely think [another grocer is needed],” said Kip Sullivan, a sophomore living on Orchard Street. “Kind of in the middle of Regent Street, near where McDonald’s is, would be a pretty good location.” “There could be another place within a better walking distance of the south side of campus where I am,” said Eichman. “It’d be nice to have someplace closer and cheaper.” Despite food access and housing quality issues, area residents still see their neighborhoods as desirable places to live. Both Sullivan and Fellinger said they wanted to remain in the area if possible. “Oh, 100%,” said Sullivan when asked if he would live in the area for another year. “It’s a very good overall spot. You’ve got Union South pretty close, and Camp Randall’s not far. It’s a nice, medium location and a relatively quiet neighborhood, which is great.” “I think it meets my needs, and for the price that I’m paying, it’s pretty satisfactory,” said Fellinger. “I really don’t need much more.”
Prices, quality of housing ‘back in the day’ versus today By Sam Tuch STAFF WRITER
As renting season approaches in Madison, students are signing onto leases faster than ever before. As they consider options, one of the factors they must think about is the price of housing – a cost that has been growing continuously over time. The United States has expe-
impacted by inflation are food, gas and one that influences University of WisconsinMadison students firsthand during the renting season – housing. In just the past month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated rent has increased by 0.5% from September 2021 to October 2021, with a corresponding increase in how much money the
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF HANNAH KENNEDY
Inflation causes student's rents to rise exponentially. rienced record levels of inflation this year, primarily as a result of economic and supply chain challenges brought on by the pandemic. Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared to a year prior, representing the highest inflation rate since 1990. Prices have risen 0.9% from September 2021 to October 2021 alone. Among the goods most
owner of a property would need to make equivalent to the cost of their ownership, called owner’s equivalent rent of residences. Housing costs have also changed significantly throughout the 2000s. According to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, the seasonally adjusted cost of housing has increased a staggering 265% since January 2000.
This phenomenon exists on a national scale, but directly influences UW-Madison students. Alumni shared their stories with The Daily Cardinal to show how much rent has increased over the years. Jen McCoy, a 2005 graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison recalls, “I paid $550 per month for a one bedroom apartment during college and that was 16 years ago.” Based on the above index, the $550 per month apartment which she rented would now cost nearly $1,100 per month from the time of her graduation in May 2005. Chris Gitter, on the other hand, a 2020 UW-Madison graduate, told The Daily Cardinal that his rent was about $650 per month including utilities, about $100 more than McCoy’s student apartment. However, he lived in a house near Camp Randall with four other roommates. The increase in housing costs not only hurts Americans’ personal finances and opportunities, but also influences options regarding their living situations. More Americans, particularly students and recent graduates, have no choice but to live with several roommates, particularly in more expensive cities, in order to afford standard housing. McCoy recounted how the costs have only increased since her time at UW-Madison. “It was an off-campus apartment complex on the south side of
Madison,” she said. ‘I also could afford to live alone – I don’t think that’s feasible anymore for students with the costs rising.” In Madison, the average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,120, higher than the indexed amount, and an increase of 1% since last year. This cost peaked in mid-August, where the price for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,280 – nearly a 71% increase since November 2014. Mckenzie Miller, a junior at UW-Madison, pays around $600 for her own room in a house near campus. Her rent is about the same as it will be next year in a different location, but last year, she paid $380 to share a room. She had five roommates, and those that didn’t share a room paid $590 per month. Statistics paint a bleak picture for college students as they graduate and move into the workforce. With the cost of housing at an all-time high, many wouldbe buyers have been shut out of the market as housing costs rise higher than incomes. Over the past decade, the median home price rose 30% while incomes have lagged behind, with a growth rate of around 11%. Even more concerning is the change in home prices over the past 50 years. Since 1965, accounting for inflation, home prices have jumped 118%, while income has only grown 15%. In order to afford a home in 2021, Americans needed an average income of $144,192, while the median income sits at
only $69,178. With the data indicating continuous year-over-year housing cost increases, alongside lagging income growth and inflation of consumer goods demanding more of Americans’ hard-earned wages, many are concerned about the stark future which could result from the continuity of these trends. While there are many different perspectives on an equitable and effective solution to make housing more affordable for everyday Americans, particularly the middle and working class, questions remain on if the larger economic trend is unsustainable. President Biden and his administration have laid out a framework for addressing the rising costs of housing, including increasing the size of Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs, expanding subsidies for manufactured housing and stimulating affordable development through low-cost financing available through federal programs. Some experts argue that the plan’s potential impact is limited in scope and lacks sufficient policy levers to increase supply at the federal level, requiring collaboration with state governments. UW-Madison students or community members struggling with housing can find resources through the Tenant Resource Center, the Dean of Students Crisis Loan Program and Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County.
Commuter 12 Our Impact 2021
A market of tradeoffs: Time, social life vs. cash By Samantha Henschel ASSOCIATE NEW EDITOR
Aaron Martin and Justin Moore have little in common, except for one thing: Neither of them knows their neighbors. With elementary, middle and high schools scattered within a five-mile range of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, families surround the campus area in neighborhoods like Shorewood Hills and Vilas Park. As the University of Wisconsin-Madison welcomed its largest freshman class in fall 2021 and navigated a residence hall overflow due to the increasing amount of freshman students — all while the campus renting season gets shorter and more expensive — students like Martin, a junior, and Moore, a senior, represent a growing segment of UW-Madison students inching into residential neighborhoods for cheaper and often better quality housing. As Martin and Moore thought about their housing choices, one phrase came to mind: Trade-offs. Both students pointed out that while they get higher-quality and higher-value housing in the neighborhoods extending past UW-Madison’s campus, they also experience barriers to involvement in campus life. Martin moved into an apartment closer to campus for his sophomore year, while Moore immediately moved into a house near a residential neighborhood over a mile from central campus.
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF MADI SHERMAN
In return for cheaper costs, student must sacrifice things like time to campus and an active social life. For Martin, the choice to break the apartment lease he had already signed on and move farther away, about a 25-minute walk from many of his classes and a 20-minute walk from work, wasn’t easy. However, his friend’s uncle offered them the opportunity to rent out a new development in the Vilas neighborhood. Martin would get his own room, and though it was more expensive, he wouldn’t have to pay any additional fees like parking or utilities. “We had initially signed a
lease for less money, but then our friend’s uncle approached us about living in a place that he had bought. The lease itself is shorter, and since I graduate in May, I won’t need to worry about paying for something that I’m not using in the summer,” said Martin. Martin was also put off by the idea of an apartment after an experience he had his junior year when issues in his apartment weren’t taken care of by his large property manager for a while. While Martin feels the ben-
efits of living farther away are worth it – a spacious room that he doesn’t have to share, minimal to no maintenance issues and having a more personable property manager, he knows that his living style has changed because of the people he lives around. “Very few of the houses close to me are college students,” he said. “I think it’s all older couples or young families with children. We have to be more conscious of what we’re doing, like not having people over super late, not being loud… it’s
[completely different] from living on campus.” “I think the biggest drawback to living here is just the [lack of ] college atmosphere,” said Martin. “Nothing really goes on around here.” Moore has been living at the same address for the past three years. Like Martin, he moved farther away from the traditional nightlife and social scene to be in a quieter, cheaper area. Though he doesn’t regret his decision, he knows his living choice has created hurdles to interacting with other college students. “There’s a slightly bigger barrier to being able to go towards campus, especially the State Street area,” said Moore, “If we want to go out, we might need to walk a little farther or spend money on an Uber [...] but overall, we’re pretty happy with the place we have.” He never looked for an oncampus apartment because he knew it wouldn’t suit his needs. The residential area that he lives in is closer to his classes in the engineering building and the UW Hospital, where his roommate, a pharmacology student, spends most of his time. “We definitely get a different living experience being there,” said Moore. “I don’t think we ever interact with the families living around us, but we overall have to be more conscious of the fact that there are families and fewer college students living around us.”
A look into the many benefits, downfalls of commuting to UW By Ian Wilder STAFF WRITER
The window for students hoping to get off-campus housing leases for the 2022-2023 academic year is narrowing as fall in Wisconsin comes to a close. Many students are faced with a tough decision: live within walking distance of campus at a high cost, or living further away from campus and commute to class. Katie, a freshman currently living on campus, is still looking for off-campus housing with two of her friends. One of the main struggles they have faced is finding a location they can all agree on. All three of them have different majors, and their classes take place in different places on campus. “It’s a difficult and frustrating experience,” she said, adding that “almost every place that works within our budgets is too far of a walking distance for either side of campus.” The only neighborhood that was within walking distance for all three of them was around Camp Randall, well beyond their budget, with three bedroom accommodations renting for anywhere from $800 to $1000 dollars a month per bedroom, after utilities. Katie also emphasized that she and her friends would rather pay slightly more for rent and not commute.
For students willing to commute, it isn’t all bad though. A 2019 study ranked the Madison transportation system as first in the nation for safety and reliability. While scoring lower in public transportation resources, 4th, and accessibility and convenience, 46th, Madison was still ranked 5th overall in the nation for public transportation. Combined with the Associated Students of Madison bus pass that every student receives, campus community members are able to take busses across Madison without any additional costs. This has encouraged students who would’ve liked to live closer to campus to look a little further than they might’ve initially expected. Robin, a graduate student, chose to live further from the university and commute by bus to class. He mentioned that on weekdays he has access to busses that run every 10 to 15 minutes to campus, and that his quality of life further from campus is better. “I live right across the street from a grocery store, which is great,” Robin said. He added that “overall, living further from campus means I can benefit from cheaper restaurants, groceries and other things, while still being 15 minutes away from campus by bus.” On top of everything, Robin
mentioned that he’s paying significantly less for his rent than he would be if he had chosen to live closer to campus. Commuting isn’t for everyone. Living further from campus, students can benefit from lower prices and lower rent. The only major downside to that being increased commute times, which can be combated through busses, biking and other ways of convenient transportation. Busses don’t run to every part of campus from every part of town, though, and they run with reduced frequency on weekends, making it more difficult for students to meet friends in and around campus outside of class. For students looking to reduce their cost of living, however, commuting may be a good way of doing it.
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF BRENNA REA
Commuting may be a feasible option for those on a budget, willing to sacrifice.