The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Students endure cold, sleep on sidewalk to sign leases with JSM Living

Jacob Slabosz
On Monday night into early Tuesday morning, hundreds of students lined up outside of JSM Living on the corner of East Green and South Wright streets in hopes of signing a lease at one of over 40 rental properties offered by the company. The office would not open until 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

On Monday night into the early hours of Tuesday morning, the lines on East Green Street grew longer than usual. This time, however, they weren’t in front of popular drinking spots like KAMS or The Red Lion; rather, hundreds of University students gathered outside JSM Living long before the leasing company would open its doors at 9 a.m. on Tuesday for potential tenants to sign a lease for the company’s three- and four-bedroom apartments.

JSM Living, a leasing company based in the Champaign-Urbana area, started in 1974 with the acquisition of one property, according to the company’s website. Since then, it has expanded to ownership of more than 40 properties, many of which are popular among University students.

Starting at 616 E. Green St., the line wrapped around the east side of the building and north on South Wright Street. Students bundled up in coats, blankets and sleeping bags. Some went so far as to bring folding chairs and pillows. 

Benjamin Shoemaker, freshman in Engineering, secured his spot at 9 p.m. on Monday, making him the first in line, long before others started to arrive. 

“In the days leading up to this, I had heard that the property that I wanted to sign, 508 E. Healey, was particularly popular,” Shoemaker said as he sat on his blanket with a winter coat covering most of his upper body. “I started to grow concerned that I might get here too late and I wouldn’t be able to sign, which, given the time invested, would be really disappointing.”

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At the University, it is not uncommon for students to begin signing leases early in the semester, leading to units selling out quickly and rent prices steadily increasing.

“Truthfully, I think it’s completely ridiculous,” said Preetha Chavali, sophomore in Engineering. “I feel like it shouldn’t be this competitive.”

Chavali and her friend secured their spot in front of the doors of Sushi Ichiban, the end of the line at the time. 

“We were originally planning on coming at 6:30 a.m. because we thought that could be beneficial to us,” Chavali said. “But obviously word of mouth spread and people were lining up, so we decided why not come a little earlier, or a lot earlier.”

With other responsibilities on their plates, some students devised plans to endure the evening. Two such students were Vaayun Hurria and Pradyun Chandramouli, freshmen in Engineering, who arrived at around midnight in hopes of signing at 616 E. Green St.

“Me and (Chandramouli) have two midterms tomorrow, so we’re gonna study for a couple hours then our roommates are gonna come take our place,” Hurria said. 

Hurria and Chandramouli brought their laptops and notebooks, as well as blankets and jackets, though they explained that the environment wasn’t conducive to studying.

“(It’s been) terrible,” Hurria said. “Everybody is cutting and we can’t get any work done.”

Chandramouli interjected with his thoughts on the matter. 

“This is the worst system ever created,” Chandramouli said. “I don’t know who decided this.”

Similarly, many students in line did not agree with the system that JSM Living had put into place. 

“I heard from someone that last year, (leasing) was all with appointments, so it’s interesting that they decided to change that,” said Samuel Barbeau, sophomore in LAS. “I think they have to think of a better system because this is crazy.”

Some students expressed concern regarding the situation. Yusef Isa, freshman in Engineering, and Harrison Kennedy, freshman in LAS, explained they felt the large gathering at late hours could pose a risk to students’ safety.

“It’s a little ridiculous how there’s a bunch of students — like hundreds of students — waiting out here,” Isa said. “I feel like it’s unsafe, especially on streets like Green and Wright.”

Kennedy further mentioned that the recent shooting at South Second and East Green streets worried him about the safety of the mass gathering.

“Considering what happened in the past recently on Second and Green and the city we’re in, it’s concerning having this amount of students on campus in one specific location,” Kennedy said. “I think something should have been done about this before, but it’s come to this. So we’ll see.”

Despite their concerns, the pair explained they were prepared to last through the night.

“We’re winners,” Isa said. “We’re not quitters. As students of U of I, we’re not quitters … I’m ready to get my lease.”


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About the Contributors
Lika Lezhava, Editor-in-Chief
My name is Lika Lezhava and I am a senior in advertising with a minor in journalism. This is my second year with The Daily Illini, and I am excited to continue the legacy of our beloved 154-year-old news source. I began working for The DI in my sophomore year as a news reporter and became an assistant news editor soon thereafter. Within the next couple of weeks, I became the news editor and spent two rewarding months in that role. Finally, I rose to the position of editor-in-chief. Although I’ve worked my way up rather quickly, I have been able to see and experience every moving part that goes into a successful news source.   If you have any general questions, please call our office at (217) 337-8300. For personal inquiries, feel free to reach out to me through email at [email protected], or over the phone (217) 337-8365.
Jacob Slabosz, Managing Editor for Visuals
Hey, I’m Jacob! I am currently a sophomore in computer engineering with a minor in German. I started with The Daily Illini in fall 2022 as a news reporter and staff photographer, and by spring 2023, I had worked my way to photo editor. I have been the managing editor for visuals since March 2023. When I’m not taking pictures for The DI or for fun, I enjoy cooking, water sports and tending to my numerous houseplants. I’m excited to see the content that our team can produce with a more visual-oriented approach.
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