*housing sold separately

For many young people, getting into UP is a dream come true. Aside from the chance of getting a UP education, there is always excitement about turning over a new leaf, brandishing newfound freedom as one takes a step towards college life far away from the usual humdrum of their provincial hometowns. Independence, at last!

Next step: dorm application. After filling in the online application form and submitting their requirements, they eagerly wait for the good news. The excitement abates, then turns into disappointment. No more dorm slots available for our Isko and Iska.

The sad reality, however, is that this problem is not exclusive to freshies since many undergraduate and graduate residents will face the same situation after the first semester. Various residence halls are already operating in half with some about to close without knowing when renovations will finish.

Caution: Falling debris, starting January

This academic year saw the rush of new freshies, consisting the first batch of K-12 graduates. Now more than ever, there is a need for residential space to accommodate them.

In-campus dorms Molave, Yakal, and Kamia are open for the first semester of the current academic year. They will, however, close down starting in January 2019 for various renovations (i.e., fixing of leakages, pest control, and pipe replacements, among others).

At present, Yakal has closed one wing and is housing male graduate students only. In Molave, some rooms and the canteen are closed, while Kamia has some graduate students from Sanggumay, since some undergraduate students need the additional space.

Limited slots

Dorm applications have been a point of struggle for students in the university for the longest time. Limited slots mean not everyone, even those from far-flung provinces, can be admitted to a dormitory.

To determine priority for slots and other facilities, a pointing system is done among dormers. The scheme puts into consideration the distance between the dormer’s residence and the campus, giving students who came from farther regions more points than those who live nearby. Also considered is the applicant’s financial situation, divided in brackets with the ones in the lower part getting the most points, and their behavior determined by their willingness to follow the rules and regulations of residence halls they are assigned to.

Setting priorities

Dorm renovations in the middle of the academic year prove to be a hurdle for most freshies coming from faraway provinces seeking shelter. With this ordeal limiting the supposed available slots, some opted to look for dorms outside the university, while others who were placed in other residence halls look forward to being transferred.

It has been a long time coming, especially for Molave, the oldest of the residence halls. With regard to the public’s question of why these dorms are only being renovated now, in what is considered an inconvenient time, Molave dorm manager Marilou Sustituido says, “It took long before dorms were given priority over the budget ever since, but the Office of Student Housing (OSH) has been doing a good job so far at making sure we get things done around here. That is why we’re finally ready to start renovations in January.”

Money matters

Sustituido assures that there will be no price increase on room rates once renovations are finished. She, however, cannot say for certain when these renovations will be completed. Though convenience is assured the next time around, residents are forced to look for an alternative place to stay, which can only be between two options: dorm applications to other residence halls or housing options at nearby places like Katipunan and Krus na Ligas.

Though both seem like viable options, the price difference between them and in-campus dorms is staggering. Even if residence halls have different facilities and price ranges, lodging itself usually does not go higher than P500/month per student, except for those in Acacia, Centennial, and Kamagong. If compared to dormitories, boarding houses, and condominiums outside campus that can go as high as P15,000/month, the inconvenience brought by unavailable slots can be quite disarming.

In addition, some residence halls like Kalayaan and Ilang-Ilang offer a package which includes meals three times a day at an affordable top-up price of about P85/day only, while outside food will cost you more than that on a daily basis. Commuting within campus is easier, and each residence hall ensures students of their safety. The only benefit that both dormers inside and outside UP can agree on is that off-campus lodgings will give them more freedom to move around because of the lack of curfew hours. Otherwise, it is clear that there is a need for more dorm slots, as freshies prepare for the next few years of their lives in college.

Building blocks toward the future

These residence hall renovations, among others, are a part of the Department of Public Work and Highways (DPWH)’s P2.76-billion worth of projects in UP campuses.

For the Diliman campus, DPWH is allotting P414-million for renovations, rehabilitations, and construction of buildings (Gonzalez Hall-University Library, University Health Service, Multipurpose Hall, Faculty Center, and Resilience Institute for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management), and the improvement of facilities, like the gymnasium, water impounding lagoons, student and faculty residence halls, and public restrooms.

Allegedly, there is a plan of building a new Narra Residence Hall (formerly situated at the now-University of the Philippines Integrated School lot) within the “dorm complex” area where Kalayaan, Molave, Yakal, and Sanggumay residence halls are located. There is no official date for its construction yet.

As of press time, the Office of Student Housing (OSH) is unable to comment on the current dorm situations, advising The Philippine Collegian to wait for further announcements once the official Dormitory Admission Committee (DAC) meeting commences.

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