Res. life puts students in apartments

Carrie Whitaker and Carrie Whitaker

What happens at the University when the number of applications for admission are up, the number of deposits on fall housing are up and cancellations are down? The answer, according to Linda Newman, executive director of Residence Life, is think fast.

This is why 284 students will live in University apartments this fall, Newman said.

The students, who were required to have at least 25 credit hours, will reside this fall in 514 N. Enterprise, 1929 and 1935 Columbia Courts and 516 East Merry apartments.

To Newman, this was a way for the University to cover costs and keep its promise to students.

“We had made a promise to them and the University needs to provide housing for all the people who wanted housing,” Newman said. “So it was up to us to find a solution.”

Two weeks into June, Newman said indicators pointed to the low cancellation rate unlike the historical precedent of a higher rate.

“We were about 400 students above capacity and at that point I decided we had to do something,” Newman said. “It was entirely possible we could get 400 cancellations … but we didn’t know and couldn’t wait until August.”

So Newman and other members of Residence Life began looking at their options.

If the overflow had been small they could have put students in lounges, Newman said. Or they could have begun asking students if they wanted to move off campus, she said.

But, the overflow seemed too large and two months seemed like too short a time for students to find off-campus housing, Newman said.

When Newman worked at a university in South Carolina, she was responsible for a large area of university apartments, she said.

“This University hasn’t owned apartments and doesn’t own apartments, so nobody here is familiar with University-run apartments,” Newman said. “I am personally familiar with the typical nuances with living in apartments instead of residence halls.”

Now, to find apartments that worked. Talking with local Realtors, the University looked for a landlord who had property adjacent to campus and could consolidate the buildings for the students. The University chose Greenbriar.

Greenbriar asked all the current residents in those buildings to relocate.

“Everyone wanted to move except one apartment — which is fine,” Newman said.

One issue that has been raised about the apartments is the loss of community off campus. Newman said this has been an issue.

“I wouldn’t say I am worried [about the lack of community],” Newman said. “I will say I recognize it won’t be the same — which is why I didn’t want to put freshman students out there.”

But, as with the residence halls, one hall director, Sheila Coressel, will be in charge of all four buildings and each building will have a resident advisor, Newman said.

The hall director and RAs will create programs for the students, Newman said. Coressel is also working on creating the Apartment Association, similar to hall council.

As for next year, Newman said time will tell what the University will do, but the apartments may be used again.

“The option for the apartments will be important until we can sit down with admissions and discuss what they think the class will look like next year,” Newman said.

Many of the students moved in today and Newman said she now sees this as a positive situation and a win-win for the University and the students.

“I think overall it is very exciting that the University is so popular this year,” Newman said. “It speaks well for the entire institution that so many people want to be here.”