Student Housing Business

JAN-FEB 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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VIE W FROM THE ACADEME January/February 2018 40 ter plan. We benchmarked other facilities and went on tours. We knew we wanted to do some cre- ative things around the student experience and provide a physi- cal platform for that to occur on our campus. We tapped into our student population in meaning- ful and creative ways to get their input on key aspects of the facility. It is important to us that students who participate in the process see their input reflected in the final product. Janz: We utilized our student gov- ernment and our residence hall association extensively, as well as our resident assistant advisory board. They were involved in a number of steps along the way. That had the additional benefit of creating more excitement for the project as it is developed. I was struck, every time we met with different groups, about the out- pouring regarding our housing. We heard from faculty and deans, 'We need new residence halls.' They know that if we are going to continue to recruit good students, we need to be able to house them in facilities that they might be able to find on other campuses. It was very encouraging to us that our academic and administrative staffs were supportive of our efforts to create new housing. SHB: Why was that so important to these groups? Janz: I was on one of these work teams regarding academic space. Another member was our dean of arts and sciences, which is our largest college. He said to the com- mittee, 'We are losing students because they don't want to live in older housing. We have to have residence halls that will attract them. We need more modern liv- ing arrangements.' Everyone on the committee agreed. As they were bringing potential students to campus, parents were telling them that our housing facilities didn't compare to other schools they were considering. SHB: How is Wild Commons dif- ferent than other properties on campus? Janz: Just yesterday, we toured the building. There is bright light com- ing in from all directions. In some older buildings, there might be a window only at the end of the hall or the center of the hall, and the halls themselves are dark. In this building, it is bright and cheery all the way down the hall. The first and second floors are full of amenities like fireplaces and smart classrooms, and a dining room that becomes a place for people to gather. Students want to see and they want to be seen. SHB: Do you have a live-learn or residential college? Janz: We are in the first year of developing a residential curricu- lum. That is guiding everything in our department in terms of how we train our staff; how we supervise our staff; and how our staff interacts with students liv- ing in the building. We do have some living-learning communities on campus, some of which have been adamant about staying in the buildings where they are and oth- ers who are adamant about want- ing to move to Wild Commons. SHB: Can you tell us more about your live-learn communities? Janz: When I first came here about 20 years ago, we had what was called 'special interest housing.' Those still remain to this day for subjects like engineering, nursing and our honors program. Honors has almost taken over an entire residence hall with their first and second year honors program. They are really running that as a living- learning program. Over the past 15 years, we have been running a few solid, committed programs. We have an inclusive living com- munity and a social justice com- Small fish, Big results 972-677-7532 Dive in with us!

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