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OPINION: NC State must enforce safety and sanitation in off-campus housing

What will be the final straw before NC State gets involved with the safety standards of off-campus housing? It could be a student’s death. It could be a public lawsuit on behalf of a student’s family against their landlord. It could even be something else entirely.

It is well past time that NC State demand a set of standards which protect students if off-campus student housing properties expect to openly profit off of marketing directly to us. There is one organization in particular that many of you might be familiar with, as it has been in the news quite frequently over the past school year.

The Vie at Raleigh, formerly known as Wolf Creek Apartments, is one of the largest off-campus communities that caters to students from all colleges around the Raleigh area. However, one of the largest group of renters belong to both NC State and William Peace University, according a former property manager’s statement to WRAL. If the public knows this, then surely our school must be aware of this as well.

Hopefully, NC State is just as cognizant of the problems that this property has been known to produce for some of its students as well. The Vie has been home to well-publicized safety issues, such as the fatal shooting of a former Shaw University student and, most recently, a drive-by shooting leaving bullet holes in the residence of NC State’s own Marissa Jerden, a third-year studying geology.

Unfortunately, those are not the sole issues with the property either. A lack of sanitation had created quite the dilemma for new move-ins back in August. In fact, there were disputes with the management on issues ranging from mildewed appliances to animal-related stains to even missing furniture within the units themselves. According to students residing at the property, the issues continued to persist even up to almost two weeks post-move-in.

That’s an insane amount of time to be subjected to living conditions such as those. The Vie might be a prominent local community that has seen its fair share of drama, but that does not mean that the controversies are limited to it alone.

The Preiss Company is another major player in the Raleigh — and even national — student housing market that can be noted for its less-than-stellar ratings among the university population. As it currently stands, they hold a two-star rating on Google and even a single-star rating on Yelp.

There was also an open letter published almost eight years ago by a Wolfpack alumna that addressed the issues she faced while living under the Preiss Company. For instance, she noted a time where a suspicious vehicle followed students for several hours around Gorman Street Village. When she talked to the Preiss Company about it, she said that they basically dismissed her fears that student safety was compromised.

So I ask again, at what point does NC State get involved?

This is a particularly pertinent question, as NC State notably lists these two housing providers as potential options for students. It is troublesome that our school’s logo could be all over suggested living spaces, without any regard for what is actually going on at those locations. The university should insist — no, require — that the safety and standards of living take precedence over these companies’ dedication to making a buck.

No one doubts this university’s commitment to student safety, at least on campus.

Nonetheless, conversations need to be had about what more can be done if companies choose to parade the fact that they cater to people at our institution. Security, guaranteed cleanliness and clear lines of communication are integral in ensuring a more productive and long-lasting relationship between consumers and businesses. NC State could be the mediator to facilitate all of that and maybe more.

At the very least, they could enter into agreements with local properties and ensure a set of standards to protect students. If properties fail to uphold their end, then NC State would publicly disavow them and take legal action to prevent any sort of affiliation from being profitable. The list of NC State “endorsed” and “non-endorsed” properties could be made available on the housing website for all students to see.

Additional involvement from NC State could be a great thing. I can only hope that NC State’s dedication to every student’s well-being will extend beyond reading the next story of yet another member of the Pack who was made to feel unsafe in their own den.

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