Officials explain future of housing for upperclassmen

Rice Hall residents Emmanuel Nared (left) and Matthew Donovan watch TV in the residence hall mezzanine Feb. 18. Director of University Residences Kevin Jacques said only the bottom three floors of the hall will open next year but if more rooms are needed for upperclassmen, that number could increase.

by Staff Writer Anna Brown

A recent campus email indicated LaGrange Hall will close when a new residence hall is opened for freshmen later this year.

Because LaGrange houses upperclassmen, some students have expressed concerns about where they will live next school year. Officials said other residence halls will remain available, and supply will meet demand when it comes to on-campus living space.

“Typically the upperclassmen are not going to be in the new residence halls, although that could change,” said Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields. “It’s been a suggestion, but it has not been approved.”

Shields said room assignments have not been finalized for the new residence halls, but there is a chance a few rooms will be made available for upperclassmen.

Rice Hall will remain open to upperclassmen next year, said Director of University Residences Kevin Jacques.

“We’re going to open three floors of Rice Hall and if we need to add more, we will,” he said.

Sophomore Lynn Hartman said because living in the dorms helps students connect with others on campus, she hopes there will always be space for any upperclassmen to live in the residence halls if they wish to do so.

“Living in Rivers was good,” Hartman said. “It was nice having all of the freshmen in one building. It was so much easier to meet people and make friends by living together.”

The cluster buildings, Hawthorne, Covington and LaGrange halls, and Appleby East and West, will also remain open to upperclassmen, Jacques said.

Currently 456 freshmen and 605 nonfreshmen students live in the on-campus residences.

Jacques said he expects those numbers to flip next school year due to the high volume of residence hall applicants.

The board of trustees passed a resolution last year to implement a freshman live-on requirement beginning fall 2015. The construction of the two new residence halls is intended to coincide with the new requirement, officials said.

“Because of the live-on requirement for freshmen, we’re getting a lot of people from the local area,” Jacques said. “The (first) new building is actually almost full.”

Shields said the first residence hall is scheduled to open in August, and the second is expected to follow in January 2016.

Senior David Augustus said living on campus gives students an opportunity to grow and learn how to be responsible in a semi-controlled environment.

“I think both freshmen and upperclassmen need to have that chance to learn responsibility,” he said. “I think its part of the university’s job to prepare students for the real world.”

Living on campus allows students to have a rich campus experience and learning environment they cannot find off campus, Shields said.

He said he wants students to live on campus for as long as they can.

“I think it’s always important for us to keep that opportunity open to any student who wants to live on campus,” he said. “If a senior desires to live on campus, as long as we have spaces available for them, I would encourage them to live in our facilities.”