Faced with an increased demand for student housing this year, McGill Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS) has partnered with Evo Montreal to provide first year students with living accommodations. The situation stems from SHHS’ guarantee that all first-year students under the age of 22 and admitted to McGill before a deadline over the summer would receive on-campus housing. Every year, eligible students rank McGill residences in order of their preferences upon paying a residence deposit, and are given a randomly generated lottery number. Students who obtain a lower number had a higher chance of receiving their preferred residence.
In practice, SHHS has a policy of accepting more applications to live in residence than there are rooms available. According to Senior Advisor of Customer Relations for McGill SHHS Susan Campbell, McGill residences annually receive 150 to 250 more room applications than rooms available. Usually, this excess demand is satisfied because approximately the same number of students cancel their residence reservations before moving in. But this year, there were not enough room cancellations to accommodate the excess 140 students. These students were then moved into Evo Montreal, a student residence opened in 2014 and located on Sherbrooke street.
Campbell disclosed that the university does not plan to change its overbooking practice, despite excessive housing demand.
“Unfortunately, we cannot control that some students will cancel or simply not show up for a multitude of reasons after the lottery is held and residence rooms are assigned,” Campbell wrote in an email to the Tribune. “Without [overbooking residences], we would have many empty rooms and we would have many students disappointed that they aren’t eventually assigned a residence, when in fact, there was [a room] available.”
Nevertheless, McGill SHHS hopes to ease first-year students’ move-in process. As for the administration’s plans on reducing the number of students overbooked in the future, Campbell admitted that it is difficult to predict demand and cancellations each year.
“The number of students requesting housing changes from year to year,” Campbell wrote. “We are committed to finding housing for all students who request housing and send us their deposit on time.”
Whereas Evo rates normally start at $775 per month for a 12-month lease, students accommodated at Evo through McGill Housing pay $1,100 per month for eight months. McGill students housed at Evo can run for Residence Council, participate in all Residence Life events, and, along with students living in University Hall and MORE Houses, are part of the MORE’s First-Year Residence Community. The Evo building is comparable to McGill hotel-style residences, but with amenities including an indoor heated pool, a game room, and a theatre. For Kagame Jean, U2 Arts and a floor fellow at Evo, the student residence provides a unique spin on McGill Rez Life.
“Being a floor fellow [at Evo] has been amazing so far,” Jean said. “Students in [Evo] have the opportunity to enjoy what could probably be referred to as extras that other rezs do not necessarily have [….] Moreover, we are never left out on anything [in the] first year residences community.”
While the process of relocating has caused many students uncertainty, many have come to enjoy Evo’s luxuries. Owen Quinn, U0 Engineering, is grateful that SHHS has placed him into Evo.
"I've had a great experience with the whole residence relocation bonanza,” Quinn said. “Even though it took me awhile to get placed here, I'm super happy that I got put into Evo [….] Evo is playing 3D chess while every other rez is playing checkers."