UNA officials discuss future of residence halls

by News Editor Anna Beahm

While students think about what classes to take next semester, university officials are thinking about what is next for student housing at UNA.

Student residence hall reclaim started in early March for every hall except Mattielou and Olive. Freshmen are only able to claim what is left of the rooms after upperclassmen get their pick, said Vice President of Student Affairs David Shields.

“We have enough spaces for everybody if they want to reclaim and live on campus from freshman residence halls, but what we are finding is that even though those rooms are there, they’re not the rooms that students necessarily would want to be in,” Shields said.

After living in Mattielou Hall, moving into Rice or Rivers halls is not desirable, said freshman Taylor Head.

“I wasn’t sure what to do when deciding what to do next (year),” Head said. “Mattielou has been nice. I don’t want to move into Rice or Rivers.”

Over 750 freshmen lived on campus this year because of the live-on requirement, the most freshmen to ever do so, Shields said. He said the university is waiting to see how many students claim rooms in Rivers to make a decision on the residence hall situation.

The university is surveying current freshmen living in campus about the residence halls, he said.

“We’re trying to collect some good data from our current freshmen students in particular,” he said. “Primarily right now (we are surveying) just the freshmen because if you were a sophomore or junior, you’ve never known Mattielou or Olive. You only know what buildings you’ve been in since you’ve been here.

“What we’re trying to do is determine what is our best course of action and what is the best course of action for the university and for our students. Their input on this is important for us, but for me, it’s about making sure we have the right kind of housing here.”

Every student living on campus, not just the freshmen, have a valuable opinion, said sophomore Benjamin Schoenbachlar.

“They should especially ask the upperclassmen because they have been here longer,” he said.

The older residence halls are in good condition, but the biggest drawback of them is the communal restrooms, Shields said.

“Having your own bathroom is a little different than sharing it with 40 of your closest friends,” Shields said.

Living on campus is good because it is convenient, but there are other inconveniences of living in the residence halls, said sophomore Rice Hall resident Micaela Rabl.

“There is always at least one elevator not working all the time,” she said. “Maintenance requests take a while for (employees) to take action on them.”

The results of this data will determine the next action the university takes regarding residence halls, Shields said.

The university does not plan to use Rice Hall next year, which served as an upperclassman building this year, he said. Instead, upperclassmen will live in Rivers Hall.

“If we have a tremendous increase in student enrollment and we have more freshmen than we know what to do with and more students coming back, we will use every building we have,” Shields said. “We’ll find a way for everyone to live on campus if they want to.”

The dorms are 90 percent filled including all in-process contracts, said Director of University Residences Kevin Jacques in an email.