Student Stories

Outrage Among Students in UTD About illegal Apartment Sharing

There is a huge outrage among Indian students in University of Texas at Dallas after an article was published in their college newspaper. It highlights how students break the rules and share the apartment.

Article by ANWESHA BHATTACHARJEE  highlights how students from India share apartments illegally.

The story on the inside is a little different, however. If you were to arrive unannounced to many Indian student-leased apartment on campus, you would find more than the legal number of residents living within.

A single bedroom apartment would have at least four or five people cramming in. Their belongings would be sprawled all over, and beds made out of mattress pads or comforters would be placed in different areas of the bedroom. There would be shoes of varied sizes strewn around the entrance to the apartment and kitchen cabinets would be bursting to the seam. Not all apartments look like that, but most do.

I’m not taking one specific sides here. I’m seeing this from neutral perspective and giving my opinion.

Author of the article has highlighted the rule breaking going on among students from India. But, the way she presented her argument could have been different. You don’t have to compare students from India to Slumdog Millionaire

One look at all of that, and you’d think Indians are a bunch of poor people just like in Slumdog Millionaire — they sleep on the floor, they live five to an apartment and save on food. Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth. Many of them are, in fact, some of the more privileged Indians, who can afford to pay for their own education abroad without financial aid.

Students Response

I read several comments posted by students in UTD and other college students.

I’m just cannot digest some of the comments. Here are few snippets

abcd writes

… 2 Bhk can have only 2 students. It’s so funny, in a 1 Bhk at Waterview 2 students are not allowed but 2 dogs are allowed.

And do u think these on-campus apartments dont know this issue?… Few years back, the rent of 1bhk at Waterview was around 450 bucks which is increased to 600 today. Reason: They know that many students stay in an apt and they wont mind if you increase the rent. If they know how to exploit students, students know their way to defend ourselves.

humble indian student writes

You have written this article without complete thought and no objectivity. Your entire article is based on the assumption that because people are able to pay 12000$ fee every semester they can pay 400 – 600$ on rent. But do you know that 90% of the students who come here take a bank loan back home. A loan which takes years for each student to pay off. In these circumstances every student will look to limit his expenses here such that he may save. You do not understand that fact this not only affects students but also families who have shell out money such that their kids may study here.

ImanIndia Writes

That means for every penny we spend over here about 50 times the pressure back home. Even then we try to make things work out in every way possible. I think you can add a few more adjectives to Indians – sacrificing and industrious.

My Opinion

Article is about students breaking the law/rules.

But, the comments highlight the reasons to why we are breaking the law.

I definitely agree that its expensive to pay the rent when apartment is not shared. But, why are you guys coming out with reasons to to why you are breaking the law?

  • Didn’t you show financial proof that you can afford to pay the cost of higher education in USA (twice)?
  • Didn’t you enter into US after knowing that, if you break the law, you are responsible  for it?

So, you guys are breaking the rules, why argue in support of that?

Here is another comment that express the view I have.

bombastic tomatoes writes

It’s funny how stand-up comedy shows are full when an Indian makes fun of Indians in the open in front of the whole world and we are so proud of it that we laugh our nuts out … of course in humour … but when someone is trying to address the real issues … 1000’s are ready to throw tomatoes at him … give him a break.

Probably, same set of students who have posted comments with reasoning to why rules are broken should have supported Anna Hazare.

When an article throws light on the real issue of law breaking, they attack the author.

To the person who wrote,

Reason: They know that many students stay in an apt and they wont mind if you increase the rent.

Welcome to USA. That’s how apartments work. If you feel nearby on-campus apartments are not safe to stay, what is preventing you from moving to safer location and commute to college from there?

University is not welfare organization. they own the space and they are going to charge the rent according to the market.

What would you say about paying rent, if you were to attend USC, IIT?

I know its  tough for students to afford to pay rent, when they don’t have RA,TA or scholarship. But, I don’t agree to arguments made by students in anger. If you made a mistake by breaking the rules, then stay low, don’t shout in public forums (even with fake names and ids).

What Happens Next?

Maybe students should have asked the author to post an apology in the paper for tone of her article.

Author might write an follow article with an apology.

But, with outrage shown in comments, she conveyed the message with much bigger impact and comments proved they are breaking the rules.

  • What if campus managers walked into apartments uannounced
  • What if they compare the address from student records to see how many students share same address?

Lessons to Prospective Students

I debated if I have to post this thread, but issues like this will not be apparent to parents or prospective students. When you board the flight, you will be unaware of such issues.

As I said before – International Students in USA are Unique and this is one other example. Be it right or wrong, you learn to stay far away from your home, adopt the situations, face challenges and overcome them.

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  1. There are many american students who have to take out loans also. And still abide by the law regarding how many people can be on a lease and live in a dwelling.

    I say search and evict!!

  2. Hi all,

    Thanks for all the comments, and thank HSB for the post.
    The “article” as everyone calls it here was published as an opinion piece. The author DID NOT apologize. And no students were interviewed because the author and the newspaper did not want students to be evicted out of their apartments.
    The author is not affluent, but the author chooses to not live illegally as a matter of principle. The author has been a part of the Indian Student Association before, as has the primary student source, and both have failed to get the community to change their views – the association openly condones illegals acts like these.
    It will help to know these facts before a judgement is made on the opinion.
    It is not racist. The author is Indian.

  3. Things are going from bad to worse. Not every student gets RA/TA. it takes a long time to get drivers license and save enough money for a car. There is insecurity in students about job and future.

  4. Please dont use wrong words in this blog about indian students.Because they are far away from their country, mother, father and the whole family. The indian student will not break any law in any country but the thing is that they can adjust and save for future…They can adjust in1bhk flat with 4 or 5 members
    …These show that indian can live any where in the world. ……JAI HIND

  5. I totally agree with HSB that breaking laws is wrong and sadly all the comments under Ms. Bahattacharjee’s article justify why Indian students break the law. I agree with all the functional, structural, cultural and economic problems faced by foreign students in the US but that does not give us the right to break the laws. And our problems do not give us the right to break the laws.
    But then again I could see why so many are offended by the article, and though I am not in the same situation as an Indian student I felt the article was insensitive, not objective and sorry I thought it was a bit racist….If the author had given some research, statistics or numbers comparing Indian students overcrowding as opposed to students of other nationalities her article would be more objective. Are Indian students the only ones who are breaking these laws? Secondly, why not try and get the other side of the story….I wish Miss Bhattacharjee would have tried to interview students who do live in such housing accommodations….What are their reasons and what are their stories? And last but not least, why the whole Slumdog comparison….It takes the article to another level. I do agree that there are some students who cheat on TOEFL scores, who fib visa documents but the matter of fact is Indian students are not the only ones who do that, students from other countries do these things as well….Why generalize only Indian students…Is it because we find it easy to throw stones on others of our ilk…

  6. The points to be noted here are :
    1. This is the first time an Indian student is coming to US on his own expenses.
    2. $1 = Rs. 50 is very much on the mind for initial months.
    3. Following the seniors.
    4. Do not know of the US laws.
    5. Cheaper is best or how would u pay the expenses?
    But once police or some one cracks this, then there is uproar.
    So every time Indians are found on the wrong side.
    We as our community should be strong so that Americans should fear passing laws targeting us. Unity should be our strength, which is missing with us?

  7. NO NO NO stupid lame ass excuses for doing illegal things …especially in a foreign country. We all must accept that we are cheap! everything we buy, a “multiplied by 50” calculation goes in our head. MY ADVICE: BE CHEAP, but not so cheap that people start noticing and cursing your country for being that way.

  8. Was there any need of such kind of article?
    those who wanna follow the rules are following rules and those who don’t want they are not!

  9. I am saluting the reporters. When we are going to higher study in abroad, we must respect and obey the rules of that country. We have the opportunity to comment on this article but we should think, what will be the next after my comment. We are the people of 21st century. We have to try to well-set a rule (home and abroad) not to break a rule and inspire others for breaking rules. Showing fake bank statement, I may get the opportunity to go USA but I have to think how could I spend my life there without enough financial support. I hope and expect, all we know the educational cost and living expenses in USA. So, why you break the law and vigorously presents your law breaking reason. I hope and expect, If I am not wrong, all future Indian students will face trouble only for you. Only for the some miss-behavior of Indian students in Australia, Australian authority reduces to offer scholarship to Indian students significantly this year.
    When some one say me “you are a dog”, theirs must be some reason, why they so called. I have to rectify myself, then no one will not find any way to shout in front of me. Automatically salute will come to me through my work.
    Pardon me, If any one feel shy from my comments. I am just showing my opinion. Wish you all. I always wish, Indian students may better opportunity in anywhere because they are diligent.

  10. I think the whole problem with the article is that its written from a point of personal anger on the authors part rather than trying to report on an issue professionally. I think she has more grudges for being called a wimp as she lives in relative luxury as compared to the rest of the indian students on the campus. The article is written more out of angst at being treated as an outcast in the larger indian community due to her very pointed affluence (which shows in her language and must definitely show in her body language). So students are reacting to it with the same sense of anger without objectivity. There are valid points on both sides but the derogatory way in which the article was presented just added fuel to the already raging fire.

  11. Very nice article. I completely agree with you HSB . If students are breaking rules they are supposed to shout so loudly that every body will come to know that what exactly they are doing because in that way they are putting themselves as well as others in trouble. If one made mistake accept it humbly rather that arguing for wrong reason.

  12. Hi,

    The blogger has put forth his/her views logically. If I read the article as the blogger did, I would have concluded the same way. However, please understand that the blogger does not seem to be a part of the university and does not know the real scenario. By real scenario, I mean the reasons as to why the students are going to the extent of breaking the rules. Things are not always as easy as they seem from outside. The article is leaving behind a wrong impression, even the people who will read this blog will never know what the real situation is. Hence, the reason why you all should not be wrongly influenced by it. The article is also misleading in several ways.

    As far as article is concerned, the author has a point, but she chose a wrong platform and even worse language. Wrong platform because she and her supporters had the power to change the system through right means. There are organizations that are looking into this issue, the author herself did not participate in addressing the issue. Instead, they chose to publicly damage every Indian’s image including themselves. The outcry was more due to her indecent language than the issue. The author and her supporters stooped very low when they were confronted. FYI, author has herself apologized for her behavior and has been asked to write a public apology for her inappropriate tone. High rental, no on campus job, no RA/TA, safety of apartments, trouble of commuting, you can only understand the gravity of these problems when you face them. Please understand that I am not defending the wrongdoings, all I say is do not judge too quickly and take this issue any further. I request you all to not make a big fuss out of this. Come to US and see for yourself what kind of things students face. I can guarantee it will be a best experience despite of those troubles. Study well and have fun! 🙂

    1. RJ – thanks for your comment.

      Let me ask you this. High rental, no on campus job, no RA/TA, safety of apartments, trouble of commuting cannot be the reason to break the rules. Rules were broken, then why get angry and confirm we broke the rules?

      As far understanding the scenario goes, I have picked up over 50 new students from DFW airport, gave them temp accommodation, took them to walmart for first shopping and to bank to open the accounts. I’m very well aware of the scenario described in the article and what students go through in UTD.

      1. This same thing took place at UTA this Fall and the person who brought out the matter was cursed and abused. Indian students failed to objectively think about the issue and tried to defend themselves even when they knew that they will be paying more i.e. even before they came here and also bank statements were shown to VO and UTA. All this just led to conclusion that Indians are poor and they fake bank statements.

        Infact, in India we are so much used to illegal and unethical stuff that when someone in USA does something legal or brings up issues like over-occupancy, copyright, plagiarism,etc. we are not able to digest that and do nothing but COMPLAINT without sensible reason.

          1. Initially, few apartments were raided and students were fined but no outcome towards the end. Things are same and in fact getting worse as the number of students coming here are increasing. Indians live like cattle in apartments amongst bed bugs, cockroaches and spiders to save money. I bet parents of these students know nothing about how their children are living. Parents will really feel sorry if they ever come to know about living conditions of their children.

  13. when we decide to go to a country, we must strictly follow the rules. Costly education loan,costly apartment rents etc are not the problems of the College authorities. Its our problem. If you cant afford , then stay in India.Do not break rules.

    1. Pras,You are a great visionary !! If you could suggest Indians to stay back if they cant afford ,Then why don’t you suggest the Indian Government to bring up competitive universities as in USA ? Breaking a rule is an offence but the Universities over here are well aware about the situation regarding the accommodation.Every international student does the same and some of the Americans who stay in the campus apartments do the same . So ,Kindly survey enough to post something which discriminates nationality.

  14. I agree about the part where Indians should not have done this. True. They thought of saving a few bucks and that is something anyone would want to do, especially an Indian on loan, if given an opportunity. I believe most people would not have even thought about the ‘legality’ of it all.

    Anyways, my main reason for commenting is this: Let us not ignore the way this ‘author’ has presented this article in the college newspaper talking about “Slumdog millionaire” to make it sound derogatory. In my opinion she must have had some animosity towards a particular person of Indian origin. If this person is authorized to write such stuff in the college newspaper, she must be knowing the importance of objectivity in news reporting. But she chose to ignore that. So maybe it was a kind of personal revenge or something. I strongly feel that.

  15. well guys!!…financial constraints are no excuse for breaking the laws of the land….When we decide to go to USA,its obvious that we should follow the laid rules and expect the living costs..But no one,in replies,thought that by doing the illegal stuff,you are presenting the bad picture of Indians.So Instead of showing attitude and attacking the author,feels sorry for whatever wrong has been done……America is land of free and so author expressed his/her views for what illegal was going over there….Its not shameful to accept you faults,but its brave to admit and correct one…..

  16. An excellent post to give us a idea as to what kind of different problems we can face abroad. IF I found myself in such a position, I would not have posted anything (neither opinion nor any reason for my predicament) on public forums. After all, its unlikely that the authorities will reduce the rent when they know from the public forums that a lot of students are breaking laws (and their reasons for it)

  17. It is an enlightening article,,, I had no Idea such things can happen at USA too.
    We should not carry such relaxation of laws to USA!! 🙂
    Strictly forbidden!

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