Campus housing near capacity

The continued rise in students enrolling and living on the UIS campus has created an intense challenge for the Department of Residence Life, concerning both the quality and quantity of housing available to students.

According to the director of Residence Life, John Ringle, “We’re at approximately 97.5 percent occupancy this fall.”

According to an article published to the UIS website on September 10, 2013, campus housing was 94.4 percent occupied.  Given the swift increase in on-campus students, many have wondered about a potential expansion, lest the University suffer from overpopulation.  Ringle also addressed these concerns, stating “There has been discussion of possible additional housing & commercial space adjacent to campus in a public/private partnership”, before adding there have been “no decisions made yet.”

Given the upward trend in admissions, one would expect that the Department of Residence Life does not have much time to deliberate.

According to a report by the university in September 2013, freshmen students attending UIS jumped 20% between the fall 2012 and 2013 semesters. This metric is vital to the overpopulation problem given that unlike the graduate students, which make up a significant percentage of UIS students, many freshmen live on campus.

The Department of Residence Life has been somewhat proactive in dealing with overpopulation, however.

An example of their reaction can be found in the Sophomore Experience Residential Initiative, a program designed to both alleviate space constraints within the residence halls and allow a select group of sophomore students to experience life in the greater campus community.  Ringle described the initiative, explaining “SERI is primarily a focused living/learning community designed to foster retention of sophomores during the developmentally critical second year, which will provide guidance & academic support to get them to successfully persist to eventual graduation.”

In creating a community devoted to helping students succeed in their second year, UIS has also relieved some of the pressure on the residence halls and made it easier for them to accommodate an ever increasing freshman class.

Along with an abundance of tenants UIS housing, particularly the west campus townhomes, is currently experiencing problems with maintenance.

Residents have made their disappointments known, and the university administration is well aware of them.

Dr. Van Lee Vieregge, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services at UIS, claims “Residence Life is working swiftly to address maintenance issues in a timely manner.”  Viergee also added that “We contracted with two private companies to clean and paint the interiors of the townhouse apartments this summer.  The painters did not show up as scheduled and the cleaning crew was under-staffed.”

The university responded to this misfortune quickly, as Vieregge claims new staff was hired to solve the issue, including “3 extra carpenters, 1 extra plumber and 3 extra painters to address all outstanding work orders and preventative maintenance items.”

Despite their efforts, however, students are still submitting many work orders, especially in the west campus townhomes.  John Ringle confirmed this, stating “We’re very much aware of the work order backlog.

There is a recognized disparity in some units across campus, due more to a combination of relative age, different years & stages of construction, & differential pricing for those units.”

Since a regular room in both east and west campus costs the same, many west campus students are likely to be wondering when their houses will be renovated.

Furthermore,renovation may not be enough in the face of looming overpopulation, as new units or an equivalent option will eventually need to be added given the current trend in enrollment.