The race-fueled protests at the University of Missouri took a huge bite out of enrollment, with the student population dropping 35 percent since the fall 2015. Local landlords are having so much trouble finding students to rent their off-campus housing that some are offering $1,000 gift cards or major rent reductions, the Devils Lake Journal reports.
A recent Columbia City Council report found that the vacancy rate has risen to almost 10 percent in Columbia—with rates spiking to nearly 13 percent outside a one-mile radius from campus.
The Lyfe at Mizzou, a 450-bed apartment complex with a computer lab and a free shuttle to campus, has tried to entice students with $250-per-tenant gift card. It also promises students they can apply for free and sign a lease with no money down, according to the Devils Lake Journal.
Mizzou provides an off-campus housing search, but several of the property managers we called said they did not want to comment about anything related to the university’s declining enrollment.
Perhaps they were thinking of the backlash at Strange Donuts, a local shop that linked its recent closure to the protests.
The company has opened locations outside of Columbia, Missouri, and enraged students took to social media to leave one-star reviews. More than 150 of them also rushed to a rival doughnut shop “to celebrate Strange Donut’s PR nightmare/going out of business.”
The university, itself, has had to make housing adjustments with plummeting enrollment in mind. Since the fall 2015 protests, Mizzou has closed seven residence halls.
The protests fueled the University of Missouri’s existing enrollment woes. The University of Illinois—one of Mizzou’s top competitors—had begun an aggressive recruitment campaign, also increasing its admissions.
Nearly 5,500 students will graduate next year, and the freshman class is the smallest in nearly two decades, the Journal noted.
The Devils Lake Journal also reported that Mizzou athletics had also seen its fans dwindle. “Attendance for football in 2016 was down almost 13,000 people per game from 2015,” the newspaper said, “and the men’s basketball team filled, on average, only 9,930 of Mizzou Arena’s 15,000 seats.”
Thousands of pages of correspondence reviewed exclusively by Heat Street showed that as the 2015 protests dragged on, scores of parents, alumni and sports fans vowed to turn their back on Mizzou. If this news is any indication, they’ve kept true to their word.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.