The University calendar will go into May from this semester on, but the majority of local landlords have their leases ending April 30, leaving students scrambling for solutions.
The University is operating on the old calendar with finals ending May 3 and commencement May 3-4 and will start a new calendar for 2019-20 including extended breaks, pushing finals to end May 8 and commencement May 8-9. The trend of finals going into the second week of May will continue throughout the next academic calendars.
Vice President of Student Affairs Matt Baker said leases wouldn't exist without college students and that student schedules should dictate lease dates.
“A landlord could say leases are May 15 to May 15 or May 13 to May 13; it’s an arbitrary day they chose,” Baker said. “We put the academic calendar up two years in advance, and so it’s not like they couldn't have known.”
Maryville landlord Terina Sears said she has attempted to talk to University leaders about her concerns with students’ leases ending during finals week.
“They (University leaders) said it is very simple, we should just change our lease date or prorate,” Sears said. “I explained to them I am happy to do so and try to work with the students, but it is a domino effect, and there so many landlords in the Maryville area.”
A Shirley’s Realty Salesperson, who wished to remain anonymous, said they are still trying to determine what to do about leases ending before finals end this semester.
“We are kind of struggling with that this year because most of them (students) need ‘til about the 4 or the 5 (of May),” the salesperson said. “We didn’t know all of this was going to happen last year. What would be better is if the University tried to wrap everything up by May 1.”
Senior Kelly Hoffmann is graduating this semester and her lease is supposed to end April 30, but her landlord is prorating the lease until May 4.
“Last year, whenever we realized that graduation is going to be May 4, we texted our landlord and asked if we could stay until May, and she told us just to go ahead and sign the lease until April 30, then we would figure out a solution this year,” Hoffmann said. “Then she said that if people who are going to take the apartment over after us were OK with waiting until May 4 to move in, then she would be OK with us staying.”
Provost Jamie Hooyman said the new calendar is created based on two main factors: the Higher Learning Commission accreditation requirements and student input. She said last year a group of students, faculty and staff came together to create the new calendar.
The new calendar will begin 2019-20 and has a week for Thanksgiving break, four weeks for winter break and online intersession courses over winter break.
“It was a neat process because there was so many different people involved, and we gained a lot of input and a lot of insight,” Hooyman said. “Of course, anytime you make that four-week Christmas break or you add that fall break in, it’s going to make changes across the board because we have to have so much contact time there’s no choice in that.”
Both the University and landlords are looking to provide solutions as needed for students caught in the middle.
“I am looking at my seniors that don’t have a choice of moving, and if there is somebody more flexible, I am signing them to their apartment so I can prorate their rent and not make them move out early,” Sears said. “The ones that are choosing to move for whatever other reason then, they’re the ones that are going to have to be moving during finals week.”
Baker said Assistant Vice President of Residential and Auxiliary Services Rose Viau is working to determine the need from students for possible housing on campus during finals week.
“Do we want to open a floor, do people want to pay $25 a night and bring their sleeping bag and phone and their phone charger and stay in a residence hall room?” Baker said. “If there is a demand to open some spaces, we certainly can.”