When E. Royster Harper, vice president for
student affairs, announced Carole Henry as University Housing
director and assistant vice president for student affairs last
week, one has to wonder if Henry knows what she’s getting
into by joining the University’s administration.

Beth Dykstra

Henry, who currently serves as executive director of Housing and
Food Services at the University of Connecticut, plans to expand
on-campus housing options, a obvious necessity for students. The
2,500 new beds she proposes will offer an alternative to students
otherwise destined for a renovated lounge or an “economy
triple.” Henry’s hopes to push forward with the
construction of new dorms will provide extra room to house incoming
and current students. The University sorely needs these extra
rooms.

The University should also seek alternative design concepts that
could create more options for students choosing a future residence.
While South Quad Residence Hall may seem suitable to an incoming
freshman or sophomore, it is not long before most students soon
choose to make the move to an off-campus residence, leading to a
severely overcrowded housing market in Ann Arbor. Expanded housing
options designed to appeal to older students would provide more
choices and potentially create an easier situation for students
looking for housing.

Housing problems go beyond insufficient space to accommodate the
University’s large student body. The limited, unappetizing
residence hall menu choices need to be changed and should be an
integral part of Henry’s agenda at the University.

Beyond improving the conditions for students living in campus
housing, the University should take a much more active role in
helping those students who live in off-campus houses and
apartments. Ever victim to greedy, shoddy and just plain lazy
landlords, students constantly have to deal with overpriced and
overcrowded options that can be found near campus. The University
should defend its students far more vigorously than it has in the
past, as it could exercise immense influence with the Ann Arbor
City Council to help ease the sometimes deplorable off-campus
housing situation.

One way in which this could be accomplished is by pushing back
lease-signing dates. The Michigan Student Assembly is working with
the City Council to pass legislation requiring landlords to
withhold signing leases until January at the earliest. Currently,
landlords are fond of forcing students to sign leases as early as
October, dangling the prospect of losing the rental to someone else
if the student should choose to wait and shop around longer. While
this may benefit landlords, it is a disservice to the student body.
With the full weight of the University behind this proposal,
MSA’s efforts would have a far better chance at winning over
the City Council. Henry’s appointment opens exciting new
possibilities for students living both on and off campus. During
her tenure at the University of Connecticut, Henry participated in
a period of massive housing revival that in no small part helped to
revive the institution as a desirable destination for in- and
out-of-state students.

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