Freshman music major Jasmin White is at a crossroads with living on campus with the changes coming to housing in the fall of 2017.
“I’ve discussed with my roommate about possibly commuting,” White said, “because the reason I decided to stay in Stella was because of the cheaper price.”
According to housing staff, the Board of Trustees is talking about raising housing prices six percent in the fall.
“It happens each year typically,” said Sarah Ouimet, assistant dean of students for residence life, “usually a five to six percent increase.”
Housing also plans to have Stella Russell Hall be a majority freshmen dorm and make Elizabeth swap out its single dorms for double dorms in the upcoming semester, said Jeri Jones, coordinator for residence life.
“Studies show and we feel having a freshmen community is better for the freshmen,” Jones said. “We have programing in the building (Stella) that are built specifically for freshmen only so they get to build a bond with other freshmen that are in that are in their same class. Through the four years, they build friendships that will last forever.
“The other reason is we’re going to be just as full next year as we were the beginning of this year and we need the extra bed space (in Elizabeth).”
The changes to Stella and Elizabeth are the first part of residence life’s new Housing Draft project that begins in March, Jones said.
“We’re not just changing things to say hey let’s change,” Ouimet said. “It’s not necessarily making it easier or harder for us. It’s in hopes that it’s easier for the students.”
Housing plans to change the dorm and roommate selection process for the upcoming semester as well by having the students make decisions in the week before spring break.
“In March right before spring break you would form a group of four people and you’d come in with a form that we’ll be emailing out to you guys,” Ouimet said. “You go on and you’ll be able to pick your actual placement. We’re hopeful that with that you guys have a little more time to actually choose who you’re living with and where you’re living and know that’s a little more set in stone.”
Housing also plans on giving priority pickings in the dorms to seniors, followed by juniors, sophomores and then freshmen.
“We’re hopeful that there’s going to be some kind of class identity change,” Ouimet said.
Their goal is to get classes separated out into a specific building together in order to create different communities on campus.
“If we are able to create these communities we can move forward with things like live and learning communities or leadership, live and learn communities,” Ouimet said. “So, when you’re living together and you’re learning together that has helped with the GPA, being able to graduate in four years as well as feeling connected and making those lifelong connections. I can’t think of a lot of cons other than it is change.”
Junior music major and Stella resident assistant Alli Perez has found the biggest worry residents have with the changes is money issues.
“Most of the people that live here and have been living here with room grants that only cover this building,” Perez said, “so the fact that they would possibly have to pay the difference to live somewhere else kind of worries them.”
Housing is aware that easing students through the transition will probably be done on a case-by-case basis, Quimet said.
“We don’t want to put any undue stress on any student,” Ouimet said. “Especially a student that is returning on campus. It’s really important to us for students to have that ability to experience residential life so we don’t want to put up any unneeded barriers to that.”
Although Perez is concerned for current students, she’s hopeful for the new arrangement for freshmen.
“I like the idea of putting all the freshmen in one dorm together because my freshmen year it was kind of hard to be social and start meeting people,” she said.
White also agrees that Stella has that welcoming atmosphere that could be good for freshmen, although she worries about class interactions with the seclusion of the freshmen to one dorm.
“I think that keeping them together with only freshmen would make them only talk to freshmen,” White said, “so it might seclude them from the other classes.”
While White’s worry is a possibility, Perez is hopeful the transitions will go successfully.
“I really hope that everything that is changing ends up going really smoothly,” Perez said, “and helps make housing and on-campus living a better experience for not only freshmen but everybody.”