Towards plush new digs in Toronto’s in-between city: the changing governance of student housing in Canada
Allison Evans, City & Regional Planning
Originally published in Urban Geography
This paper examines the emergence of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) in Canada and the role of neoliberal policies in reshaping the governance and territoriality of higher education. In doing so, it reflects on the implications of these socio-spatial shifts for current notions of studenthood. Using a case study from a university located in Toronto’s low-income inner suburbs, we question, first, the extent to which policy changes have enabled PBSA development in Canada; second, the particularities of PBSA implementation in this context, and third, the ensuing filtering of student bodies along class and student status through stratified housing options. We argue that if universities are to fulfill their public interest goal of enabling social mobilization through equalizing opportunities, then student housing should be considered a fundamental space where democratic societal objectives may materialize. This may require a “new grammar of politics” that foregrounds nuance in students’ identities, trajectories, and experience.