After the departure of Former University
President Lee Bollinger, the University’s efforts to select a
new president were largely kept secret — students were kept
out of the loop, and the process went on behind closed doors for
nearly its entire duration. Over the coming weeks and months, the
University will begin another search in earnest: the process of
selecting a new housing director. The University has gone without a
housing director for nearly a year, and a new director could not
come at a more desperate time. From outdated technology, to old and
worn-out furniture, to a shortage of healthy food options,
improving the residence halls will prove to be a huge task for
anyone who takes this new position. However, unlike the
presidential search, the University will keep the process open to
the public. Community involvement will prove important in bringing
in a new director with fresh ideas and a progressive vision for the
aging residence halls.

Kate Green

Aside from cosmetic issues, the current on-campus housing
programs have a serious shortage of space. Because a new residence
hall has not been built in more than 30 years, only first year
students can be guaranteed housing. In recent years, the University
has had to go so far as to convert lounges into makeshift dorm
rooms to handle incoming freshman classes. Rooms that used to house
two now are made to house three, with little accompanying increase
in living space.

Additionally, despite great strides made toward this end, the
dining halls still lack substantive options for those wishing to
eat healthily. Many entrees are loaded with salt, fat and calories,
and though an effort is made to offer healthier options, the dining
halls fail to provide enough quantity and quality of such options
to make them a desirable to most students.

With these issues in mind, the search for a new director will
prove crucial for the ultimate goal of making the University dorms
the finest in the country. Beginning with a panel comprised of
administration members, teachers, and students, the University has
been reviewing applications since September. Public forums will be
held beginning in late- January, where the four finalists will
present their vision as to how to renovate, renew and improve the
residence halls to the selection committee and to the general
public.

Hopefully, this public process will result in a new housing
director who makes a priority student and community issues.
Positive changes to the residence halls are not only good for
incoming freshman classes, but also for cash-strapped upperclassmen
facing the high rent and poor living conditions of most Ann Arbor
habitiations. The off-campus housing situation in Ann Arbor is
insufficient, and improved on-campus options could give students a
viable choice. Regardless, the open process should serve as a model
for future searches, by giving students and the community a say in
the direction and future of the University.

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