OPINION: Aspen Heights’ communication errors unacceptable, displace WSU students

Over 500 students left scrambling for housing right before start of semester



Construction on the Aspen Heights complex will continue until mid-October, then students may be able to move into their apartments.

ANNABELLE PEPIN, Evergreen columnist

Eager to live independently in a new place, a significant number of WSU Pullman students were scheduled to move into Aspen Heights’ off-campus cottages on Aug. 13.

However, with new developments comes new obstacles. The most significant is unfinished construction, which pushed the long-awaited move-in date to October.

“Aspen’s construction faced delays because most of the units were flooded by a construction error,” an anonymous future resident said.

Mistakes are made in many scenarios, but transparency is essential. The lack of communication was the root of frustration, considering accommodations could have been made sooner.

It is difficult to have sympathy for this company because an error this serious must have been known for a significant amount of time.

Aspen Heights offered a series of options and scenarios that their tenants could choose from to compensate for their mistakes.

These options were either a $1500 credit to your resident account and to find your own place to live, or a $300 credit to live in the temporary housing they are providing.

For perspective, this would barely cover two months rent (Each room setup is between $739-$809 per month).

Social media has clearly been the main and fastest source of information, so when the email was sent to future residents about their errors, all social media comments were turned off.

Emma, an Aspen Heights tenant who has asked to exclude her last name for privacy reasons, said “We were promised a move-in date of August 13th, and had not heard anything regarding our move-in date until a week before.”

Fortunately, a group of these residents, including Emma, were able to break their leases to escape the situation, but others were faced with adversity.

“Luckily, with the help from parents, lawyers and others, we were able to get out of our Aspen lease and sign with The Hills On Grand,” Emma said. “I feel bad, however, because I know people that were unable to get out of their leases and now have to move into places without their friends, not knowing when their actual home would be ready to move in.”

It is difficult enough to adjust back to the life of a full-time student, so to be told that their home is no longer waiting for them is a frustrating reality that these students are living.

Home security is an issue that is not always addressed because of the dorm requirements for many universities, on top of the specific small college town feel of Pullman, which automatically masks the appearance of any homeless crisis.

A survey was conducted in 2019 by Goldrick-Rab that revealed that nearly one in 10 college students had been homeless in their school year.

To see friends and peers struggling in ways that put their mental well-being and overall living conditions at risk is difficult to see.

Balancing life at a university is stressful enough, so to have the basic human need of shelter stripped away is a concept that is difficult to imagine until you are actually going through it.

One of the appeals of Aspen Heights was the convenient location and brand new feeling, which cannot be found to the same degree at any of the other housing options around Pullman. However, this “new” feeling is not worth facing the displacement and uncertainty that hundreds of WSU students are currently facing.