New resident hall planning in process

New+resident+hall+planning+in+process

Cheyanne Kramer

Oakland University Housing strives to create a sense of community within each building. There are consistent opportunities for all residents to interact with one another with Residence Hall Association meetings once a week to hall-wide programs.

With the recent announcement of the new residence hall on the south side of campus, some students raised concerns regarding the placement and distance from the current dorms.

James Zentmeyer, director of Oakland University Housing, said a lot of the problems with interaction between the separate residence halls were never thought of when planning the dorm.

“In the future, there will be a second and third dorm at that side of campus but who knows,” Zentmeyer said. “In the future, programs like Midnight Breakfast may end up taking place in the Oakland Center.”

Programs like Midnight Breakfast, where residents gather for an extra meal at midnight in the springtime as a social event, are popular amongst housing students.

According to Zentmeyer, the new dorm will be opened with a dining hall large enough to seat 400 people. The plan of the building is to allow for an expansion to the dining hall which would provide up to 1,000 seats.

“I have mixed feelings [about the new dorm],” Kristina Whitaker, Night Watch worker, said. “If you lose your key and need to get a loaner from the housing office or something you need to walk clear across campus.”

Some students have a positive outlook on the prospects of the new dorm.

“It will be the first one there, but not the last,” Matthew Bloom, Resident Assistant in Oak View Hall, said. “That side of campus will need to expand and I think the location is extremely perfect for education and engineering students.”

Zentmeyer said that the new dorm would allow for communities of students who need access to the buildings right there to live together and gain further independence as sophomores.

The plans for the new dorm are made with sophomore and junior students in mind, especially those who are part of the MTD and engineering programs.

Zentmeyer explained that the new dorm will provide for “living-learning” communities where students can interact with people on their floors who are in similar majors to their own.

“Right now, many sophomores feel as if they are going down the ladder when they leave Hamlin Hall and they end up in Van Wagner or Hill House where they have a completely different style of living,” Zentmeyer said.

To solve this, Zentmeyer said that the plan is to change which building houses what type of student.

Hamlin will remain a freshman-only hall while Vandenberg will become upperclassmen-exclusive.  Hill and Van Wagoner will become freshman halls while Fitzgerald and Oak View remain open for any class standing.

“Many universities have freshman dorms with communal bathrooms and it allows for a tighter-knit community to grow,” Zentmeyer said. “But for upperclassmen who want more independence the communal bathrooms of Hill and Van Wagner don’t offer that.”

Zentmeyer had not heard some of the student complaints over the location of the new dorm but explained that it is necessary and that the university has included students in the process.  

“We have a group of students aiding with the planning process of this new dorm,” he said.  “Actually, the original location of the new dorm was even further away, but now with the new campus master plan, the dorm will be located at where the true campus heart will be.”

The new dorm will hopefully be open in 2018 and will also provide 200 seats of classroom space. Zentmeyer said that residents will have access to the overnight parking of the new parking structure and will see resident-only spots at that side of campus to help alleviate some of the parking problems around the current resident halls.