In three houses, Baits goes strictly freshmen

BY VALIANT LOWITZ
Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 31, 2009

It’s not uncommon for incoming freshmen students to dread the prospect of living on North Campus during their first year — most notably the Vera Baits housing complex.

Equipped with a new set of plans, University housing is hoping to change that opinions.

Beginning in the fall semester of 2009, the Cross, Conger and Coman houses in Baits II will be designated strictly as freshman-only housing.

The decision came as a result of comments from freshman students currently living in Baits, according to University Housing Spokesman Peter Logan.

Generally, many first-year students have complained about living in the Baits Houses, noting that the residence hall isn’t conducive to the transition into college life, according to Logan. He added, however, that the switch to all freshman housing “may succeed in changing perceptions” about living in Baits.

“This is an effort to provide more community building for freshman in the Baits houses,” he said.

Not all students, though, have negative feelings about the Baits houses. Joanna Smulska, a freshman currently living in Baits, said, “At first I was upset to be living there because of the bus ride,” but added that there are a lot of events that bring the community together.

Currently, 78 percent of students in Baits live in single rooms, giving it highest single rate among all University housing accommodations. Logan added that some students have expressed concerns regarding the design of the residence hall.

“First-year students there have indicated that a sense of community is hindered by the physical layout of the complexes (comprising several units, each having fewer rooms along short corridors),” Logan said.

The three houses designated exclusively for freshman were, according to Logan, “selected because of their proximity to Bursley Hall and its dining facilities, which play an important supporting role in social interaction and community development for new students.”

The Baits houses provide kitchen facilities to all students, but do not have their own dining halls.

When construction was completed in 1967, Baits houses were originally designed for graduate students. In 2004, the residence hall houses were opened to undergraduate students “as the space needs for new and returning students increased,” Logan said.

He also said students have suggested having more residence advisors to support community-building activities and programs.

“The RAs assigned to the three houses will have the opportunity to work with the residents in developing a more intentional community that is focused on the interests and needs of first-year students,” Logan said.

In regards to students who currently live in the Cross, Conger and Coman halls and who wish to renew their housing contracts, Logan said, “They could not reapply for their same rooms for next year, but they were invited to participate in the ‘same hall’ reapplication process to select rooms in other houses of Baits.”

Yulin Cui, an Engineering freshman and Baits Hall resident, said he was initially concerned about living on North Campus during his first year at the University. Now that the school year is coming to a close, he said, overall, his experience has been positive.

“There’s really nothing wrong with living in Baits and the people are quite friendly,” Cui said. “Freshmen do fine here.”