BOZEMAN — Time is ticking for dozens of Montana State University employees to find new housing. The university told residents several months ago they have to move out to make room for housing for graduate students.
On Thursday, some students organized a walkout on campus to show their objections. Dozens of students gathered on campus to raise awareness for an issue they’re pretty passionate about involving the university. "Shame on you, MSU," chanted the crowd.
“The issue is that if there’s a problem or if there’s a known benefit, we don’t take it away from people. We make it equal and accessible for everybody,” explained Taylor Moorman, a former housing resident.
But with the move-out deadline approaching, students rallied to express their frustrations.
“I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding. We’re doing this for the benefit of students. We have 198 graduate students who are waiting for housing. The protest today was very concerned about wages but there are 40 employees in those units. The majority of them are faculty and their average salary is $66,300,” explained Tracy Ellig, the Vice President of Communications at MSU.
Moorman, who was living in the housing with her son says she doesn’t fall into that salary bracket and is still concerned with the people behind the numbers.
“Look at like the human beings that are in the center of this and to realize that it does have a huge impact like these are people who are trying their hardest," said Moorman. "They’re working full time. They’re looking for ways to support themselves and their families. Please don’t make it harder. There are enough things we have to deal with.”
Organizers are concerned that the evictions specifically target the campus’ most diverse housing neighborhood.
“The only criteria that the university applied were are these people in these units students or are they employees," said MSU Vice President of Communications Tracy Ellig. "Those are the only things we looked at. That’s it.”
Current residents living in the housing have until June 30th to move out.
Organizers and participants want MSU President Waded Cruzado to provide housing for everyone, but Ellig says that would require raising tuition, which only the Montana Board of Regents can do, not the university.