The Injustice of Boulder Student Apartments
Apartment living in Boulder is ridiculously expensive, deterring many from moving to the area. For a student taking classes and likely working a minimum wage job to earn a little extra cash, Boulder housing can be almost impossible to afford. This is why I am blown away by the fact that much of the student off-campus apartment options in Boulder are some of the most upsetting rip-offs imaginable.
When I transferred to Boulder from a college in Missouri, it was relatively late in the summer, and housing choices were limited. However, much to my delight, I managed to secure a room at one of the most coveted buildings available in the area. I still remember being elated to discover that I would soon be living there. This excitement was so strong primarily because of the tour I had received of the building – when I had been shown a beautifully decorated room, streaming with natural light which almost made the space comically beautiful. I had very nearly expected to see a couple of cartoon bluebirds soar in through the window and sing about the joys of apartment life; this is why I was so disenchanted after I started to live there.
On move-in day, I was, to say the least, surprised by the apartment we’d received. At no point were we told that there were two versions of rooms and that we’d been given the much less attractive ‘Style #2’. The living room and kitchen were hideous, with stains already spotting the carpet and a thick coating of grime across every surface. However, with a little cleaning and some imaginative decorating, I was able to look past this initial disappointment. However, it didn’t take long for something to go wrong in the apartment. Within a few days, it had become apparent that something was profoundly wrong with our washing machine. Clothing was becoming ruined, rife with rips and tears. After watching many a shirt perish from within the bowels of our washer, we finally filed a maintenance request. Time passed, but no-one came to fix it. When someone finally did arrive, they told us that the lint-filter on our dryer was full, and this was why our washing machine was malfunctioning. Our washer and dryer were not connected but were instead two completely different machines. Let that sink in.
When this, of course, fixed absolutely nothing, we put in more maintenance requests. These, unsurprisingly, were ignored. It was then that the washer began to leak vigorously. We all gathered up as many towels as we could find and pressed them around the dryer’s surface to soak up the foul-smelling water. We went through towels neck-breakingly fast and had no way to wash them within the apartment. At this point, we were all but begging for someone to come and fix it. Mold had become a genuine concern for us, as not even a bone-dry state like Colorado can always withstand standing water for that long. And, to add on to all of this bliss, the washer started making a hideous growl that you could hear from the other end of the hall. When someone eventually did arrive to examine the washing machine, it was two of the front desk workers. They did not come to help us, but instead to take a video of our monster-washing-machine and laugh at us. To sum all of this up, yes, it was eventually repaired. However, they only decided to fix it when my father called and threatened legal action, after which they sent a maintenance worker up within the day.
That experience wasn’t the only injustice we suffered in that apartment. We were never compensated for the clothing that the washing machine ruined, the dish-washer barely worked which meant nearly everything had to be hand-washed, and the elevator was broken for an extended period – making it arduous for my grandmother to get up to my room on the third floor. As the cherry on top of this exquisite cake, while we were cleaning one of the hanging light fixtures, we discovered that it was not secured to the ceiling. With only a gentle touch, it came tumbling down and shattered to the ground. It appeared that they had glued the light to the ceiling and called it good. That could have easily crashed down upon one of our heads; we were merely lucky to be out of the way when it fell. We have since moved out and have now discovered that we are being charged for a broken microwave which we know is a scam, but no-one will take our calls.
My experience in this apartment is not unique, though. Many students have gone through something similar, if not worse. Nearly every student apartment in Boulder is priced at over $1,000 a month per person. Some of these places are truly disgusting, and yet they get away with it. Why? Perhaps it is because it is well-known that most students don’t have very much money. Without money, they may consider us powerless, as many students must rely on family assistance to pay the rent. These apartment complexes also know that we need them. They can charge whatever they please because many of us must live somewhere near campus. This sort of philosophy is not limited to Boulder, but to many of the colleges across the country. What’s worse is that we as the student-body allow it. Sure, you can rate apartments online and get recommendations from the college about apartment living, but we as students are not fully organized regarding how we communicate about the quality of independent living in Boulder. We mostly discuss it via word of mouth. There are sites, there is the Better Business Bureau, but overall, we do not have much of a voice.
There needs to be a place where we can all go to get trustworthy information from the unbiased options of fellow students on apartments. We should be able to discuss living options freely and easily. One spot to check, perhaps somewhere as simple as a website, ought to be available. Instead of scouring the internet or asking around with the hope that someone will know some information about that specific apartment building, we need a site that can offer plain facts for Boulder students. The truth of the matter is that nobody will do it for us. If we want to be treated fairly in issues of housing, we must take control. We must demand that we are treated with respect and honesty.