University plans for additional upperclassmen housing

After approval from the UNA board of trustees, vice president of student affairs David Shields said he and his team are ready to take the next step concerning upperclassmen housing.

Shields said the university is looking at the possibility of adding two dormitories, but he said they will most likely only add one.

The board of trustees gave Shields permission to look into new upperclassmen housing at its meeting Sept. 21. Shields said the next step is to meet with architects and determine cost, location and how the university will finance the project.

He said he hopes the new upperclassmen dorm will be around the same size as Olive Hall but with cluster suite instead of individual rooms. He hopes the building will include laundry on each floor and common gathering areas to allow students more freedom than the freshmen dorms.

Senior Audrey Burton said the university is in need of new upperclassmen housing.

“It’s not fair that we built these new freshmen dorms but still have upperclassmen in dorms like Rice and Rivers,” Burton said.

The university currently does not know how many rooms this would be, but Shields said price will determine how large the project is.

He said the building design could also include additional dining options or convenience stores.

Shields said the university surveyed freshmen last year and found the majority of students were likely to stay in on-campus housing if the living conditions were similar to the design of freshmen dorms.

The university currently offers Covington, Hawthorn, Rivers, Rice and Applebee East and West for upperclassmen housing. Shields said these accommodations only offer around 220 beds compared to 764 beds in the freshman dorms.

Shields said the university is looking at multiple locations for the new building, such as former upperclassmen dorm LaGrange Hall, but nothing is finalized because the design will determine the best location.

Shields said the board of trustees wants to finalize the design and plans by the end of the 2017-18 academic year.

Shields said he hopes to have the new dormitories as soon as possible so the university can move forward in expanding the live on campus requirement.

The university policy currently requires students to live on campus during their freshman year, but Shields said the university is looking at expanding that to include a student’s sophomore year.

Sophomore Harley Miller said forcing students to live on campus is insensitive to students’ financial well-being.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea just because quite a few students don’t have the means to live on campus,” Miller said.

Shields said the university is trying to be sensitive on price for on-campus housing. Because of this, the university will renovate Rivers Hall after completion of the new dorms for the university to use as a low-cost housing option for students.

Shields said studies have shown students who live on campus have more academic success, feel a stronger connection to the campus and tend to graduate at a quicker rate.

He said the university will have to wait to implement this policy around a new admission cycle so students are aware of the live-on requirement before they choose to attend UNA.

He said the university will work with the Student Government Association for feedback on this change.

SGA President Hugo Dante said SGA is always willing to listen to student feedback and voice it to the correct groups.

“It is our goal to always put the voice and the best interest of the students at heart,” Dante said. “Students are involved directly and indirectly in the process, and we will strive to ensure that the new housing and policies are in line with what is best for the student body.”