Groundbreaking for a the new residence hall that some say will improve the quality of life on campus nears closer as the spring semester winds down.
Work is set to begin in July on the $15.7 million building project which will add room for an additional 400 students and is set to open for the fall 2003 semester. Rooms will vary from single occupancy to four-bedroom suites.
A feasibility study conducted last year showed there was sufficient demand to house an additional 490 students on campus. Since the fall of 1997, the number of students living on campus has risen 20 percent, up to 1,026, 70 students over the space limit in the current residence halls. This overbooking forced University Housing to add three occupants to 60 Woodcrest apartments designed for two people.
Next semester, University Housing director Todd Duncan said all 90 of the Woodcrest two bed apartments will be tripled up to accommodate another increase in students. Duncan said the new residence hall will allow students to breath easier for the fall 2003 semester.
“The overloading and tripling is a short term approach until we can get a new building built,” Duncan said.
In addition to the overcrowding, many students addressed other concerns they would like taken care of with the new building. One concern is personal space, said freshman Megan Epping, who live in Residential Village.
“Small dorms are good for getting to know people, but you get tired of it,” Epping said.
More computer laboratories is another feature that freshman Ashley Kaiser said she hopes the new residence hall will include. The current lab in Kentucky Hall isn’t always available, she said.
“A lot of people hang out in Kentucky hall, and if you have to get a paper done, it is hard to do if you don’t own a computer,” Kaiser said
Duncan said the new building will address these concerns. The individual bedrooms in the four-bedroom suite will be 50 percent larger than the current individual bedrooms in a three-bedroom Woodcrest apartment. Bedrooms in a two-bedroom, double occupancy suite will increase in size by 25 to 30 percent. In addition, the bathroom to student ratio will be as low as two to one in the new hall for a four bedroom suite. A double occupancy will be four to one. Norse is currently four to one, Kentucky and Commonwealth hall 22 to one and Woodcrest can vary from one to one to three to one.
The new hall will have a computer lab, and at least one Internet connection per room, Duncan said. There will also be a smart classroom to be used for multi-purposes.
“We will step up our accessibility to technology,” Duncan said.
High on sophomore Loni Hammons wish list for the new dorm is more simple than technology or space. She said she wants to see a change in carpet, which she said leaves much to be desired in her Woodcrest apartment.
“I would like to see some kind of actual carpeting,” she said. “It gets gross, and you can’t vacuum it.”
Duncan said more individual concerns regarding the interior design of the room will be looked at, but haven’t yet been mapped out.
University Housing is still in the process of choosing a developer to construct the building. The building will be funded through a form of state bonds known as Certificates of Participation, which will be paid back through the rent paid by students, which will be no higher than the current cost.
Rent for a 4 single bedroom suite will be no higher than Woodcrest at $525 in the fall 2003. A double bedroom suite will match that of Norse at $336.
The dorms will also include an elevator allowing for better access for the handicapped. NKU president James Votruba said the added space and improvements will allow for easier recruitment abroad contributing to diversity on campus. These added students will increase activity on campus, he said.
“You need a critical mass of students to promote activities and events on campus,” Votruba said.
The new hall will greatly change the social environment on campus, said Katie Herschede, president of the Student Government Association.
“I don’t think people realize the full impact it will have,” Herschede said. “Weekend life on campus will become much better. More people on campus means more weekend activity.”