Letter to the editor: The KU elephant
To the editor:
As a homeowner I pay attention to the upcoming election and the topics discussed. Affordable housing and infrastructure receive a lot of attention, and for good reason. But it seems that no candidate wants to mention the elephant in the room: the University of Kansas.
KU houses about 5,000 students, around 20% of its total student body. The remaining 80% must find housing somewhere off campus. Since KU can only house 20% of its students on campus, that leaves nearly 20,000 students to live and commute in and around Lawrence. In 2015 KU built two new dorms with a capacity of 350 students each, but before that the last time KU built a new dorm was 1967. KU has about 13,000 parking spots over nearly 100 acres, but only a handful of parking garage towers. Student can pay $300 for a parking pass or park “free” off campus. Student drivers fill city streets bumper to bumper in East Lawrence, which increases traffic, congestion, road wear and sidewalk use. East Lawrence is filled with houses rented by the room and neighborhoods that resemble “student slums.”
KU is central to issues such as affordable housing and infrastructure because nearly a quarter of Lawrence’s population is semitransient students. While welcomed by some, KU outsourced many of its problems to Lawrence. The success of KU and Lawrence are deeply intertwined, so we deserves leaders who will hold both the city and KU accountable.