Housing issues affect students on, off campus

Samantha Wright

During the summer, many WKU sophomores opened their emails to find a surprising offer from Housing and Residence Life: a chance to move off campus with no additional fees. 

Due to an influx of incoming freshmen, HRL was forced to employ different methods to make sure all freshmen were supplied with housing. The number of freshmen living on campus for the 2015-2016 school year increased significantly compared to the past two years. Sophomores and other upperclassmen registered for housing in dorms were sent emails offering a refund of the housing deposit, the removal of housing fees and a waiver of the non-compliance fee. 

Brian Kuster, director of HRL, said only a handful of students accepted the offer, however.

Kuster said freshmen take up about half of the housing, with sophomores taking 25 percent and juniors and seniors taking the final 25 percent. 

Another complication was the ongoing expansion of Florence Schneider Hall, which usually houses students attending the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. Gatton students were moved to Bates-Runner Hall, which normally houses Honors College students, so Honors students were moved to Gilbert Hall. 

Kuster said the shuffling of students meant residence halls lost some of the rooms they usually had.

“There are around 148 beds at Bates-Runner, which was turned over to the Gatton students, so when you lose 148 beds, it creates some repercussions,” Kuster said.

Courtney George, a Maysville junior and Honors College student, said she isn’t too upset about the move to Gilbert.

“I don’t mind it personally. I know it’s temporary,” she said. “I know a lot of my classmates blame Gatton, but it’s not their fault. I’m sure they didn’t want to move either.” 

George said, however, the whole process seemed too complicated.

“It seems really roundabout to put Gatton in Bates, Bates in Gilbert and Gilbert everywhere else,” she said. “I think they should have just put Gatton in Gilbert.”

Some freshmen weren’t upset about the move because they had no other frame of reference regarding dorm quality.

Tiffany Conrad, a freshman from Brentwood, Tennessee, said she likes where she is.

“I think right now I’m okay with it being Gilbert,” she said. “I don’t really know the difference between the inside of dorms, anyway.”

Kuster said HRL ended up block-leasing several apartments at College Suites for upperclassmen who hadn’t yet been assigned housing. Students living in those block-leased apartments will not only pay HRL instead of College Suites, but they will also pay the housing rate that is in place at Barnes Campbell Hall and Bemis-Lawrence Hall, instead of the rate at College Suites. The students will be able to stay at College Suites for both the fall and spring semesters. 

Kuster said their main goal was to make sure all freshmen had housing on campus.

“We want to make sure we can house our first-year students on campus,” he said.

Kuster believes they have now made enough space so if there are any “walk-in” students-students who move in part-way through the semester or need temporary housing-they can live on campus as well.

Occasionally Resident Assistant rooms are used if necessary, Kuster added. Traditionally, the room holds only one person, but sometimes they will add another occupant. He noted that some schools will sometimes have three students to a room if housing is tight, but HRL will prevent this from happening. 

Another housing development that had some issues is the independent Midtown by Brookside. Midtown is an apartment development located just off campus, by the Alumni Center. Students who were hoping to move in on Aug. 4, the original move-in date, were forced to wait several days, as the date was pushed back to Aug. 10 through Aug. 14. If needed, Midtown provided students who had to be on campus before those dates with temporary housing at a hotel. Midtown pushed the move-in date back to make sure they had everything perfect for the students moving in.

Although there were several issues with housing this summer, all those involved did their best to make sure all students had a place to stay.

“I think Midtown’s doing everything they can to accommodate students, just as we are,” Kuster said.