With the student housing re-application process already underway, current residence hall occupants must soon decide if they want to live in University housing another year. However, the comforts of dormitory life may not be an option for some students as Residence Hall rooms become less available.
“We are pleased if students who lived with us are having a positive living experience and decide to return,” University Housing spokesman Alan Levy said. “If many more students than normal decided to return, it would be wonderful but it could also be a problem. We have been and are essentially at full capacity.”
“There are some schools around the country that are experiencing problems – they are having vacancies,” said Levy. As a result, those schools have been renovating dorms to attract older students, particularly by building suite-style apartments, Levy added.
Statistics show that most will not applyfor University housing. According to the 2001 Residence Hall Survey, although 95 percent of all freshmen on campus exercised their option to live in a residence hall for their first year, only 40 percent of all sophomores live in residence halls. That figure drops to 13 percent for juniors and 7 percent for seniors.
Residence Hall Association Vice President Amy Keller said many factors contribute to why most students do not live in residence halls after their freshman year. “There is a stigma attached that it is cool to live outside the residence halls,” Keller said.
But Keller added that the residence halls’ amenities outweigh the perceived extra cost. “The location (of residence halls) is definitely a lot better. You have laundry on site, most residence halls have cafeterias … It is just more convenient,” she said.
LSA junior Wes Farrow has spent all three of his college years in West Quad Residence Hall, including one year as West Quad Residence Hall council president.
“I basically stayed in West Quad to be (a resident advisor),” Farrow said. “I do like it, though. They are more convenient. They are close to campus, have hot food three times a day and people clean the bathrooms.”
Since leaving the residence hall system after her freshman year, LSA junior Amanda Bart has lived in both an apartment and a house.
“I liked the social aspect of (Mary) Markley (Residence Hall), but I still wanted to switch,” Bart said.
She cited quality of living accommodations as the main reason she left. “I don’t live in residence halls because the rooms are too small … They need more suites with common rooms (and) your own bathrooms,” Bart said.
Rather than constructing new buildings, the University is focusing on renovating current residence halls. Levy said the Residential Life Initiatives Project – comprised of a group of campus representatives – is comprehensively looking at the need for residence hall renovation.
The youngest residence hall on campus is Bursley Residence Hall, which was built in 1968, while the oldest is Helen Newberry Residence Hall, built in 1915.
But new housing – not owned by the University – may still be on the way. A private group received approval from the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission to build a housing complex on North Campus. The building, tentatively titled North Quad, will feature apartment-style living. Although the project is still waiting for approval from the Ann Arbor City Council, it is expected to open no later than fall of 2005.