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University works to alleviate housing shortage

By Abby Kelly, Senior Staff Writer

To combat the housing shortage on Miami University's campus, university officials are reconsidering plans to renovate all residence halls by 2025.

Students have also been placed in off-campus housing such as Hawks Landing, Miami Preserve and Level 27 apartments to alleviate the shortage.

According to Director of Housing Options, Meals and Events Brian Woodruff, this shortage is due to increased retention rates and a larger-than-expected freshman class of 4,000 students.

"We have made a number of adjustments to our Long Range Housing and Dining Plan in order to accommodate the growth in our incoming classes and increased retention rates in the near-term," Woodruff said.

Additionally, some resident assistants (RAs) are temporarily living with first-year residents. Now in the second week of the school year, some first-year students previously living with RAs have moved to more permanent housing as spaces became available.

The Long Range Housing and Dining Plan aims to renovate all Miami residence halls by 2025. Each year, another quad of residence halls is taken offline for renovation, with student housing funneled into those residence halls that remain open.

Despite the reopening of the newly renovated East Quad, housing was also limited this fall because North Quad residence halls are closed for renovations.

Director of News and Communications Claire Wagner said Miami has been trying to do as much renovation as they can without having to make the entire dorm unavailable for an entire school year.

For example, Morris Hall received renovations over the summer and was ready for first-year students to move in this fall. But that kind of turnover is not always possible.

"It depends on how old the residence hall is and how much work it needs," Wagner said.

But Woodruff knew that more housing was going to be needed at some point, even before Miami gained its highest enrolling class this fall. He said that renovating the older residence halls is only the beginning of meeting the expected demand for housing in the future.

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In the past, Miami has also built new halls like Maplestreet Station and the Western residence halls to support the increasing student population. A similar plan called for Patterson Place, a historic Miami landmark, to undergo construction and become Patterson Place Hall. However, Miami called the plan off due to strong reactions from alumni and community members.

"The plan to build a new residence hall at Patterson Place would have accommodated our projected housing demand by opening a new hall for the fall of 2017," Woodruff said. "We have since worked to find a new location for such a residence hall, but changing site locations means that the new facility will not be available until Fall 2018."

Although a location for a new dorm has not been decided, there are still other plans in the works to achieve meeting Miami's projected housing demands. For example, 1,000 students will be able to move back onto North Quad next August. It is also possible that to Clawson Hall on Western Campus will expand.

According to Kim Kinsel, associate vice president of auxiliaries, Miami is still deciding which residences halls will be closed in the future.

"We are in the process of determining the next halls for renovation and do not plan to take entire sections of campus offline for renovation at the same time," Kinsel said. "Going forward, we will take two to three buildings offline for renovation at a time."

By continuing to work closely with Enrollment Services during the decision process, Kinsel does not expect this year's housing situation to continue onto next year.

"In our current planning and projections, we should have enough housing on campus for our rising second year students and incoming first-year students," Kinsel said. "With the North Quad renovation, we will be able to accommodate our students next fall."

Even though the housing shortage has been a headache for students this year, Wagner believes the continuing housing projects will ultimately give students a better experience at Miami.

"I think we are always looking to have the right balance of experience for the students," Wagner said. "The faculty are doing the academics and we have student groups, but housing is definitely a part of the experience."