Residential Life will introduce several policy changes in resident hall living next year, including a policy that will restrict Towers Complex residency exclusively to freshman students.
The Towers Complex includes Singular, Trusler, North Towers and South Towers.
“One of the things in the university’s strategic plan, and it’s still just in its draft form, is a focus on retention and welcoming first-year to students to campus and helping that transition,” said Cass Coughlin, director of residential life. “The basis that most schools and most research supports is having a community and environment where the focus is really on the transition from senior in high school to freshman in college.”
Though there are currently some upper class students staying in the Towers Complex, those involved in residential life speak positively about the change.
“I think it’s a good decision,” said Drew Jahr, Towers complex coordinator. “It makes sense. We urge our freshmen to mingle and then having a community that’s set up for gatherings and the Towers complex, with the lounges and the open spaces, really establishes that.”
Coughlin said that Towers is designed to create a sense of unity for its residents.
“Community bathrooms are one of the things that help and usually it’s not a big hit with upper class students,” Coughlin said. “The lounge space that’s available in all the complexes there and the room set up being primarily double rooms with a smattering of suite style. Just the whole layout is really designed for helping first-year students adjust to getting to know other people, adjusting to academics and social development.”
And although the new policy will force upper class students who currently live in the Towers Complex to move, Residential Life leaders are confident that those students can make the adjustment.
“There are a few students who have been in Towers for two, three, or however many years and they have one or two more years and they had just kind of envisioned staying there and they’re not happy to be uprooted from their home,” Coughlin said. “For the most part, (the response has been) pretty positive, but there have been some students who don’t like the change because of the change or just because it’s change. I can understand and respect that.”
Morse Complex will also undergo many changes in the next year. Current four-person rooms will be downsized to three-person rooms, and some rooms house two students now will become single rooms.
“In Morse, probably the most notable thing is that we’re depopulating some of the spaces,” Coughlin said. “In Abigail on the fourth floor, most of the rooms have been assigned as doubles, but they’re probably better designed for one person, so we’re going to make the entire fourth floor private rooms for upper class students.”
Coughlin said that students need more personal space than they did when the complex was constructed. What used to be a suitcase or two and an alarm clock, he said, is now much more.
“When they were built, students came with a very minimal amount of stuff, but with all the things students bring now, in terms of technology and just kind of enhancing my personal life of my residence, we’re depopulating those to triples,” Coughlin said. “So, at most, there will be three people in those rooms next year.”
There are also plans to strengthen the international society in Morse by devoting an entire area not only to international students, but American students as well.
“Northeast Morse will be an international community where both American students and international students can live and it allows us to support some of the challenges that international students experience when they’re studying abroad,” Coughlin said.
Although it will take time to assess the effects of these changes, those in Residential Life remain optimistic.
“I think it will be alright,” said Sheila VanRanken, junior elementary education major and resident assistant for third floor Central Morse. “I’m not sure that they’re going to have enough freshmen to fill it completely, but it will be a change. We’ll see what happens.”