Although noise from construction around campus has been ongoing, the commotion and excitement for the projects being built have just begun.
Don Yackley, the director of residential life and housing, revealed the features and amenities of Cougar Village II and Cougar Place, the new student dorms being built on campus.
“Besides just offering students housing, we want to also be about helping students to be successful,” Yackley said. “Everyone says that, but we want to actually do that.”
The design of Cougar Village II mirrors that of the original Cougar Village, as it offers first-year students with the same suite-style dorms, yet it will now have compartmentalized bathrooms. This means the shower and toilet will be in separate rooms, which allows all four students to use the different areas of the restroom at the same time, Yackley said.
Cougar Village II will also become the home of two new classrooms and residential life offices.
Cougar Village II is not met without opposition.
“I’m a bit upset with Cougar Village II because they took away that huge expanse of grass,” said English sophomore Trisana Woodworth.
“I saw it as sort of a park area, and now it’s just more living quarters. And the campus is going to be so cramped now with all these people living here.”
Cougar Place will house sophomores and upperclassmen.
Cougar Place will have many of the same amenities as the Cougar Villages, such as two new classrooms, laundry facilities and full kitchens on each floor. Each suite will have four single bedrooms with full beds that share one compartmentalized bathroom, a small living room area and an efficiency kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator and microwave, Yackley said.
Cougar Place is appealing to students, especially compared to Cougar Village, by its current residents.
“I’d really like to live in Cougar Place because it is still on campus, which makes it easier for me to stay involved in the school,” said economics freshman Marcela Arevalo.
“It also has a more private atmosphere while still keeping a community cultures. It’s also a lot bigger than the Cougar Village dorms I’m at now, which is also a plus.”
The new layout of Cougar Place will promote interaction between students and will provide many resources for them, Yackley said.
The completion date for both projects is mid-July, yet the housing offices will begin offering tours of the new facilities in March and open in August.
Cougar Place will be more expensive than the Cougar Village dorms, but Cougar Village will be receiving a three percent increase in its housing rate.
“The housing department doesn’t receive any funding from the state,” Yackley said. “We rely on housing fees for our revenues, and they generally increase each year because of basic operating costs, facility repairs, program improvements and debt services.”
Other improvements for the next academic year include opening Cougar Woods during the weekend, as well as incorporating Bayou Oaks into UH’s housing management.
With the completion of these new projects, UH hopes to begin remodeling and improving current housing facilities such as the Quadrangle and the Moody Towers in the coming years.
In the mean time, students have Cougar Village II and Cougar Place to look forward to in the near future.
“It seems like there will be a good student community in Cougar Place,” said Solomon Sii, an accounting junior who plans to move to campus next semester. “Living off campus, I don’t really get that; so I’m excited to finally experience it.”
While excitement and opinions over the new dorms vary among students, most students share a view with U Scholar freshmen Abel Rocha.
“I think I’m just most excited about this construction being over.”