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University of Utah sees high interest in program housing students with alumni

Posted at 9:21 AM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 11:21:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Students return to class at the University of Utah Monday, but some are still scrambling to find campus housing in time.

The University has been working on a plan over the last two months that asks alumni to house undergrads this academic year.

FOX 13 News reported on the program last month. It's aimed at addressing the U's growing need for student housing.

Since then, big changes have been made to the pilot program, including the number of students who will actually be able to participate this year.

Bethany Hardwig, the Director for the office of alumni relations, says they initially set a goal of pairing 100 sophomores, juniors and seniors with alumni. That goal number is down to 25 now.

"If we had, had more time, I really feel that we could do 100 well," Hardwig explained.

Hawrdwig says intense screening is to blame for not meeting the initial goal. But she also says there have been high points in the process, including the community's level of interest in participating.

“We had a huge response from potential hosts," she said. "About 500 people reached out."

One of the approved hosts is Salt Lake City resident Linda Dunn. Dunn says she plans to meet with a prospective housemate several times to see if it's a fit before she says yes.

"I was just open to it, probably from my own interest in people," Dunn explained. "But also my background in, in all things university and community."

She hopes the experience helps build a sense of community between students and Salt Lake City residents.

"Now am I going to be careful in the process? Absolutely. Do we have rules and stipulations? For sure," Dunn said. "I really hope that it will allow us to build community at a time that we need it more than ever.”

University leaders hope to match 25 students with alumni by Monday. However, Hardwig says that goal might not be met until September.