Preparations for new housing facility to begin April 1

By Kevin Graham

Preparations will begin April 1 for the new $30 million residence hall approved in December by the Board of Trustees, according to University Housing Director Jim Zentmeyer.

While an official groundbreaking ceremony will take place April 16, a construction fence will be put up at the beginning of the month to facilitate the movement of materials and equipment.

The construction will necessitate the closure of half of P5. Lots P1, P3 and the parking structure will be made available for overnight parking beginning March 23 and continuing through the end of the Summer II session, according to an email released to the campus community Friday evening.

Student Congress Vice President Robbie Williford, a resident on campus, said parking could be an issue in the near future.

“I think in short-term, the issue is going to be people having to park further away,” he said. “A lot of students don’t necessarily think about the longer term because I know that some students might not even be able to see the building once it’s built.”

Zentmeyer said the housing demand is higher than ever and they expect to have to once again place more students at Homestead Studio Suites this year.

“We’ll probably see twice as many students over there this coming year,” Zentmeyer said. “We’ll go from about 30-35 students who physically get placed over there to probably about 75 students who are placed over there.”


Sweet suites

Zentmeyer said rooms in the new facility are going to be different than what students might be used to.

“These (freshman rooms) are really going to be sweet,” Zentmeyer said. “The student enters and they have a bathroom with a toilet, sink (and) shower. They have a kitchen sink, under-the-counter refrigerator/freezer, microwave and HVAC that regulates just this room’s temperature. It’s both air conditioning and heating 365 days a year.”

Standard rooms for both freshmen and sophomores will be double occupancy. Sophomore rooms will feature a common sitting area and individual bedrooms currently designed with the capacity for full-size beds.

Rooms for the disabled will feature more square footage and wider turning space.

Priority placement in the new residence hall will be given to freshmen, sophomores and members of the Honors College, which will also move to the new facility upon completion.


Spacing out

Williford is particularly pleased with the Honors College receiving more space.

“I think there is limited space and in order to grow as a program with the Honors College, you have to have the space and you have to have the resources,” he said.

Zentmeyer said part of the plan for the new building is to put the Honors College on display.

“We’re going to have it front and center on the ground floor of the facility so that when you enter the building, the Honors College is going to be behind glass,” he said. “You’ll see all the dynamics of what goes on in the Honors College.”

Williford said there will also be more outdoor space available to the students.

“There’s open spaces for people if they want to throw a football,” he said. “From what I understand, there’s going to be a few hammocks out there.”


Building a community

Zentmeyer said he feels the new residence hall will be good for the campus as a whole because in his experience, residents tend to be more active on campus.

“They know more people in a greater depth,” he said. “This does become more of a home than if you’re just jumping in your car, getting out for class, hopping back in your car and going home.”

Williford feels the new facility would add to the diversity of the student population.

“You get more students that are able to live on-campus which then goes into more people that are able to come from further away which adds to diversity,” Williford said.