Students share experiences with YMCA housing


Ryan Ash

The front of the University YMCA is pictured above. Several students live as residents on the third floor of the building.

By Matt Troher, Staff Writer

While students look for leases and discuss which forms of housing suit them best for the next year— whether that be University Housing, Private Certified Housing, Greek Housing or privately rented apartments — there remains another option. Students can rent space and live in the oldest housing option on campus: the University YMCA.

Located on the corner of Wright and Chalmers streets on the West side of the Main Quad, the YMCA, with its red and grey bricks, shares the architectural style of many of the campus’s other buildings, such as the near-by Gregory Hall. The YMCA was the first building on campus to offer housing for students, first offering residency in 1908.

The tradition is still alive today, with the top floor of the YMCA dedicated to housing up to twelve students each year. Due to the YMCA’s origin as a male institution, the YMCA only offers housing to male-identifying students.

During a normal year, the YMCA’s third-floor houses twelve students in a combination of double and triple rooms. The residents also share a kitchen, complete with a shared oven and wide cabinet space, and a living room, contributing to a sense of communal living.

The common area of the University YMCA residence is pictured above. (Ryan Ash)

Michael Grovier,  junior in Media, lives in the YMCA. Having transferred from Parkland, Grovier scoured the internet for housing options, looking to avoid the dorms crowded with underclassmen. He stumbled upon a listing for YMCA housing on a Facebook page and was intrigued by the idea of a convenient location and affordable cost.

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“Living at the Y has been really good; great location, great price, as long as you’re ok with the whole living with someone in the same room and sharing the facilities and stuff,” Grovier said. “To be honest, the triple is a little small, and I don’t personally think I would like to live in a room with two other people.”

He said they have a little less privacy considering everyone shares a living room and bedroom. Next year, he plans to find one of the doubles to live in.

Due to social distancing guidelines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the YMCA has limited their housing to only four students, converting all double and triple rooms into singles. However, Ann Rasmus, associate director of the YMCA, expects housing to return to full occupancy for next year.

“The YMCA is concerned about public safety, and as we looked towards this fall, we didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the wellness of our students,” Rasmus said. “We kept the rooms to individual occupancy, which is not necessarily the guidance that came from the University, but we felt it was the right thing to do.”

Living at the YMCA allows residents easy access to all of the Y’s facilities and programming, such as “art at the Y” where the YMCA displays different art exhibits surrounding issues of social justice and activism on the first floor in the Murphy Gallery.

They also host a weekly event they call “Forum Fridays” which is a series of lectures and discussions. This series seeks to raise awareness in the campus community about national and international trends and events. The forum program has been taking place for over 90 years.

Due to the YMCA’s status as a center for the community, Rasums said housing at the facility attracts students who are interested in being involved. Many also have an interest in the overall mission of the YMCA and the goals it seeks to attain through the programming it offers.

“Students choose to live here because of the location, it’s people who want to be close to the heart of campus, and we have a very affordable option,” Rasmus said. “We tend to have pretty studious students, it never likes a party floor. It’s generally people who are pretty serious about their classes and students who are engaged in other parts of the mission of the Y, which are social justice and environmental stewardship.”

For the upcoming school year, housing at the YMCA costs $410 a month for space in a triple, $470 a month for space in a double, and $940 a month to convert a double into a single. The YMCA also offers summer housing at a reduced rate, costing $675 for the entire summer.

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