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Old Digman Hall to be returned to student housing
October 1, 2015Tweet
As housing sign-ups for the 2016-17 academic year approach, Residential Life is taking a number of measures to open up as many beds as possible for students who prefer to live on campus, said Suzanne Howell, associate dean of students and director of Residential Life and University Housing.
Old Digman Hall renovations are in the works to bring approximately 140 beds back online for incoming freshmen for the next academic year. In addition, the number of single rooms available on campus will be limited, opening up over 100 more beds.
The measures will offset the loss of 232 beds when Cayuga Hall in CIW is taken offline for renovations during the ’16-17 year, and are part of the ever-challenging and often unpredictable balance for Residential Life to maintain a high occupancy rate and keep costs down.
“Over the next 10 years, we’ll be renovating all CIW and Hinman halls one at a time,” Howell said. “Bringing Old Digman back into the housing mix will help alleviate the loss of beds necessitated by the renovation schedule and provide us some flexibility.”
More students than expected opted to live on campus for the current academic year, Howell said. As a result, Cayuga Hall’s renovation, which was to have started in the summer, was put off for a year, and some students were placed in super-occupancy housing, when three students are assigned to a double room.
“This isn’t unusual, and has happened in the past,” Howell said, “but we move students out of the super-occupancy rooms as quickly as we can. We currently have less than 50 such rooms and are doing our best to eliminate all super-occupancy rooms by the end of the semester.”
The campus is at 99 percent occupancy now, she added. Some students are still in super-occupancy until appropriate space opens up, such as male or female housing, or because they want to remain in their current building.
“If we have empty beds the rates can go up,” she added. “Our costs are generally the same whether we are at 90 percent occupancy or 100 percent. If we were at 90 percent occupancy, we would still have all of the overhead costs and staff that we need when we’re at 100 percent. We can keep rates lower when we have higher occupancy.”
Students living in super-occupancy housing are charged for regular occupancy in the community they live in, but when they are moved out of a super-occupancy room, they receive a credit on their account for the time they were in the over-occupied room.
The transformed Old Digman Hall that will come online in fall 2016 will have a theme based around wellness, said Sharon O’Neill, senior associate director of Residential Life. “It will be unique, with yoga and meditation rooms, and studio space. There will be some room to store equipment if Campus Rec comes in for programming.
“It’s primarily for Digman residents but will be open to others as well,” she added. “We hope to have health and wellness area-based classes as well.”
After the building is completely renovated and open, it will be connected to another community to help maintain and establish some traditions, O’Neill said. “It will have its own RD and RAs as usual, things like bottle fillers, and the kitchen will be renovated around the wellness theme, so we’re discussing having something special.”
The wellness theme also matches with Old Digman’s location – closest to the Campus Recreational Center at the East Gym. “Res Life will be looking at how we can partner with Campus Rec,” Howell said.
Overall, the goal for Residential Life is to successfully house all students who wish to live on campus, said Howell. “We always house all freshmen, and this year all transfers were accommodated as well, since they are transitioning to a new place just as freshmen are.
“We also made changes in our sign-up cycle last year that we are following again this year by holding housing sign-ups in November,” she said. “This new schedule still meets the timeline of students who are considering living off campus, so they have a choice to sign a lease off campus or remain on campus.”
The system will stay open until March, she added, giving students plenty of time to change their minds if they wish.
Another benefit for students that began last year and will be continued – no deposits are required when signing up for on-campus housing.