A group of BYU students met on March 16 in hopes of starting a tenants union.
The group was started by Ethan Webb, a BYU sophomore and economics major. The union describes itself on its Instagram page as “a group of students interested in protecting student renters’ rights.”
The first meeting was held over Zoom and consisted of a small group outlining what the union might become. A few of the issues discussed were potential non-profit organization status, committee ideas, and the need for legal aid.
Many of the students at the meeting expressed their initial reasons for joining at the beginning of the meeting.
“I care about affordable housing and I have had a lot of bad experiences with my landlord and my management. I’d like to know more about where my rights as a renter come in and how I can go about resolving some of our issues,” BYU junior Gracia Lee said.
Another issue was focused on lobbying for BYU to stand behind its students over the landlords of contracted housing. Some members felt that BYU did not stand behind students when many BYU-contracted housing complexes did not allow students to vacate their contracts when the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. Many students complained during this time that they were locked into their contracts with no way to leave despite classes going remote and campus being closed.
Members also felt it was important for the union to remain a non-partisan group, ultimately refraining from identifying with any specific political group. They want the tenants union to be open to all, including those who may not be traditionally left-wing, a common stereotype about unions.
“Rather than potentially alienate people who share our grievances, I think we should try to bring them in because we want the same things and similar policies,” BYU finance student Trenton Borders said.
The group will continue to meet in the future to address current issues as well as create an actionable plan for the future. Those interested in joining can find more information on the union’s Instagram page.