In the beginning of this Fall Semester, students living in unapproved, off-campus housing at BYU-Hawaii received emails from the Housing Office in regards to their housing status. Kiley Murray, a sophomore in business from Provo, Utah, said, “I received an email from the school saying that I needed to be in BYUH approved housing because my house wasn’t approved. I signed a BYUH contract for the house I live in now and wanted to find out what was going on, so I went to the Housing Office to find out.” Murray was told by Housing Office employees that her house, like many other student’s houses, had not been inspected and that the houses need to be inspected annually.
Grace Alspaugh, one of Murray’s roommates, said when BYUH Housing came to inspect her house, they were very helpful. “They seemed to only be trying to make the house better for the students to live in,” Alspaugh said.
The Residential Life Assistant at BYUH, Saralyn Lopez-Camit, said the main things they are looking for are safety concerns. “We make sure that each student has a bed, a place to put their clothes, has a restroom, and only has five unrelated people living in the house,” she said.
Lopez-Camit continued by explaining the Hawaii state law only allows five unrelated people to live in the same house, and then supported the Housing Department’s recent actions by referencing the Twelfth Article of Faith, which states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.” Lopez-Camit said, “As a church institution, it is important to follow the laws of the land, which is why we can’t approve [some of the] houses.”
BYUH has been given a special exception from the government to separate men and women living together, according to Lopez-Camit. Landlords who segregate sexes in their homes that are not BYUH approved housing are actually breaking a federal discriminatory law. BYUH is trying to help protect landlords and students, she said. Although following these rule may be difficult, Lopez-Camit said, “We want to work with landlords to make it work for everyone as a community.”
The Housing Office staff wished for the students to understand their concern for the safety of all students—that the President’s Council needs to have a record of where all BYUH students are living in the event of a natural disaster. “Also we understand there is not enough approved housing right now but knowing exactly how many students live off campus will help fix the problem,” said Lopez-Camit.
If you are a student living off campus and received an email stating that your account will be put on hold because you do not live in approved housing, Lopez-Camit, and the entire housing office staff, encourage students to pay them a visit to answer any questions and resolve any concerns. “Please come in [the office] for help if you are not able to find contract housing. We are willing to work with everyone,” said Lopez-Camit.