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MSU instructs nearly 80 employees to leave university housing

Posted at 12:59 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 14:59:55-04

BOZEMAN — An email to 78 members of Montana State University’s faculty and staff who live within university housing reads they all have nine months to find a new place to live.

The first line reads: ‘This letter is to provide you with advance notice that your housing contract will not be renewed beyond June 30, 2021.’

That also brought questions.

“It was never intended as an employment perk or an employment benefit,” said MSU Vice President of Communications Tracy Ellig.

Ellig says it is an issue dating back years: faculty and staff living in housing meant for students.

“It’s been a very difficult decision for us to make,” Ellig said. “We did not make it lightly. We have graduate students, every year on a waiting list for housing.”

So, 78 faculty and staff out of nearly 3,500 employees read the news in their emails.

“That housing was always intended to be student housing,” Ellig said. “It was never meant to be long term employee housing.”

According to part of the letter, it reads ‘extending accommodations at MSU Family and Graduate Housing to some employees has resulted in an unwanted situation of inequality.’

And according to Ellig, that waitlist for grad students looking for housing here has only grown, with 3% more grad students attending this year.

“In a typical fall, we have 40 to 60 graduate students who have families who are on a waiting list for housing,” Ellig said.

MTN News spent time speaking with two different employees, who did not want to be on camera.

Each says they are worried that they don’t make enough money to find affordable housing elsewhere in Bozeman.

Listings show some three-bedroom apartments within university housing go at around $925 per month.

“Those rental rates only exist because they’re subsidized by students paying housing fees across our entire enterprise,” Ellig said.

The email goes on to state “[p]lease know that we value you as an MSU employee” and “the decision not to extend the housing contract does not reflect on your performance or status as our employee.”

“We understand that this is a challenge but we also understand that we have students who need this housing,” Ellig said.