WHERE, THEN, SHALL WE LIVE?

 Residence Life implements changes to housing selection process on campus

SEPTEMBER SYMENS

srsymens11@ole.augie.edu

HOUSING

Those applying for on or off-campus housing for the 2014-2015 school year will see six changes regarding campus residences as they prepare for room selection day on March 23.

 

Theme house changes

Loki and Nobel, current theme houses, will be converted into campus apartments.

“[The houses] will open up 12 new apartment spaces for students,” Solberg hall director Danny Sandberg said. “It’s not 200 spaces, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

According to Corey Kopp, director of residence life, the two houses are “naturally apartments anyway,” since they are already divided into individual spaces suited for two inhabitants.

Though the houses are being removed from the theme house program, Kopp does not expect the cost to live in Loki or Nobel to rise noticeably next year.

“The rate of apartments like Norse and Duluth is pretty consistent with what we are charging for Loki and Nobel,” he said. “It wouldn’t be a significant difference.”

Odin and Academy, also theme houses, are currently on hold (or unavailable to students), as the construction of another campus-owned apartment building is being negotiated.

“[Odin and Academy] sit on a footprint for what could be a great place for another Summit Apartment,” Kopp said. “Not to say that we’ll be able to do that in the next year, but there is some wisdom to removing houses from a program, potentially even taking them down over the next year, so that if we did get the approval to move ahead quickly on a project like that, we could go at any time.”

Since plans for construction are, according to Kopp, “up in the air,” it is still possible that Odin and Academy will remain theme houses for another year.

 

Fewer off-campus approvals

Fewer requests for off-campus housing will be granted to juniors this year. According to Kopp, the third-year waiver of past years was created in order to make room for more people on the north side of campus. However, since the college has had “two years of lesser enrollment,” north side’s spatial needs have changed.

“Because we made off-campus approvals the way we did last spring, there’s a lot of empty rooms,” he said. “Absolutely it’s a money thing. The other side of it, though, is that our communities are better when they’re full.”

 

No single room applications

The Granskou and Stavig single room applications of past years have been eliminated in favor of a first-come-first-serve approach on room selection day.

“It’s not about whether or not you’re approved, it’s about whether there’s a single room available when you show up,” Kopp said.

Like other dorm rooms, students’ abilities to claim a single room will be based on room selection numbers. Unlike in years past, a limited number of rooms have already been designated as “singles.” According to Kopp, by pre-designating rooms with numbers ending in threes and eights, as well as some rooms on the first floors of each dorm, Residence Life was able to create more available single spaces.

“We did that because we only bought 260 sets of furniture for each building,” he said. “We literally don’t have any more beds for people than what we’ve got in those two areas.”

 

Changes to apartments

Instead of using their room selection numbers, those wanting to live in any of the campus apartments next year will be placed in a random drawing.

According to Sandberg, the randomized process will diminish some of the difficulties that accompany competitive housing on a smaller campus.

“You know who those people are,” he said. “If the person ahead of you took the last space in the Duluth apartments, you know that. You remember that. This year, we decided to do the online opt-in form. If there are 100 people that fill it out, that’ll go through randomized ordering, and I’ll start at number one.”

Kopp agrees that a randomized opt-in system is fairer to the student body.

“We decided that we’re going to remove the processes in place that give preferences to either [juniors or seniors],” he said. “We’re going to increase the possibility that all students have for living in apartment housing if they’re interested.”

After this year, students living in campus apartments will be unable to homestead, or reserve, the same apartments for the next year. Sandberg attributes this decision to the currently unbalanced number of juniors and seniors living in campus apartments.

“We’re trying to have a 60-40 split [between juniors and seniors]”, he said, “With homesteading, that kind of makes that ratio impossible. [The lack of homesteading] is something that I think is growing pains for the student body that they’ll have to endure. While verbally saying that there will be no more apartment homesteading next year sounds difficult to swallow, in practice, it is something that I think people will see a little bit easier than they’re hearing.”

Necessary changes

Kopp agrees that the changes are necessary, if painful.

“We only have 120 apartment spaces available on campus, and we know that’s not enough,” he said. “I feel for the folks who would be third years next year who would’ve wanted to homestead for their senior year, but we’re also talking maybe 50 students who would be upset versus the hundred that I have right now who are disappointed that they don’t even have a shot.”

Sophomore Meg Thacker, who is hoping to claim a spot in the Summit apartments for her junior year, says she and her friends know that their spot is “not guaranteed” for the next year.

“I feel like that will add more stress next year,” she said. “But I don’t know. [Residence Life] is doing what they have to do, I guess.”

As room selection day approaches, the Residence Life team encourages students to come to them with concerns.

“We’re trying to balance the needs of the greater college community with the needs of individual students,” said Kopp. “We know it’s stressful, we know it’s difficult, but we want people to take the time to get to know us a little bit and to ask questions.”