Housing changes for new school year

Housing 1
A room with a view: upper-years can opt to live in Pei next year.

The Housing Department is getting a number of revamps this year, including staffing and structural changes, and a new system for room draw.

With the recent leave of Campus Life Coordinator (CLC) Shannon Smigo and upcoming departure of CLC Aaron Baker at the end of this semester, the staff will look very different next year. But rather than just hiring new CLCs, Dean of Students Tracy Murry is looking to change the organization of the Housing Department. Murry plans to bringing back Resident Directors (RDs), an entry-level position that will serve as a liaison between the CLCs and RAs, as well as a resource for students. RDs are not new to New College. Up until 2011, the Housing Department had three RDs on staff.

RA and thesis student Lynn Gusman was a student when the RDs were part of New College.

“I can’t remember any of their names, which may say something about their involvement in the community,” Gusman said.

Nevertheless, Murry hopes that a combination of RDs and CLCs will help streamline the Housing Department.

Aside from the new RDs, however, Housing has another big change it is debuting: an online housing program. The software, which is called Simple Campus House, is currently being used for off-campus applications and will be used for regular room draw in late April, as well as handling other housing documents in the upcoming school year.

“I had a chance to tinker around with it,” Gusman said. “It looks good.”

The school has set up a three-year contract with Simple Campus that will total about $20,000 in costs for an initial test run, and both Baker and Murry are optimistic about the program. “We were originally just looking for a program that would let us handle complaints and charges. Eventually we noticed that that was always thrown in as a package deal with a larger room-draw system,” Baker said.

The software will go through its first major test run in late April, when it is opened for room draw.

Room draw this year will also include a return to more traditional housing arrangements, including making some Pei dorms available to upper years, something that was not presented as an option during last year’s room draw. As well as an inclusion of Pei dorms, Murry is also looking to create themed halls, similar to the quiet dorms and substance-free dorms.

Murry hopes to debut an International Interest Hall, which he says would be convenient for the upcoming school year with the Daughters for Life program set to start in the fall. “How large the hall is depends on demand,” Murry said. “It could be an entire dorm, but more likely it’ll be one floor or even just a few rooms.”

He also emphasized that while it could be most convenient for the Daughters for Life students and International Studies AOCs, the hall would be open to anyone who was interested.

What will not be open to all students in off-campus residency. Applications opened on March 11, and according to Baker, they are expecting to let off significantly fewer students this coming year.

“We have a range of about 100 to 170 students that we can let off campus,” Baker explained. In the 2013-2014 school year, more than 170 students ended up off campus, resulting in a number of empty beds, and an occupancy rate of less than 93 percent. This coming school year, to meet their 96 percent bed occupancy goal with a total of 629 beds available on campus, Housing is looking toward leaning much closer to 100 than 170.

As a final note, Murry emphasized that there are no plans any time in the near or distant future to tear down B-Dorm. “We might have a cleaning planned this summer,” Murry said. “But no, there are no plans to tear down B-Dorm.”

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