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Friday, September 21, 2018

Campus

With more competition, UH plans to grow on-campus housing


Housing at the University of Houston, Moody Towers.

Moody Towers will be demolished in three to five years to make way for new on-campus housing. | Owen Zinkweg/The Cougar

Nursing sophomore Jose Martinez wants to live on campus, but the limited availability of on-campus housing has pushed him to live at the Campus Vue apartments, the closest off-campus alternative, nearly half a mile away.

“The dorms are always full,” Martinez said. “I would like to live on campus, but there is never any room.”

Over the past seven years, five third-party student housing complexes have opened up within three miles of the campus. With vast changes planned for the University’s housing options, Student Housing & Residential Life hopes to take back students, like Martinez, who have chosen to live at the new apartments.

One goal for the University is to have 60 percent of first time in college students live on campus. According to a Housing presentation, the University is at 52 percent.

In February, the Quadrangle began demolition for a replacement expected to be complete by December 2019.

“Even though it has an amazing history, it was time for the Quadrangle to go,” said Don Yackley, executive director of Student Housing and Residential Life. “We are going to be adding an additional 350 new beds so that when it returns it will be able to grow.”

The new Quadrangle will draw its design from Cougar Place, which Yackley said is the most popular place to live on campus with its suite-style living and private bedrooms. It will also have some townhouse-style buildings with the purpose of attracting international students and creating more learning communities.

“All of this has the goal of being as affordable as possible and encouraging student-to-student interaction, which we know impacts student success,” Yackley said.

The Quadrangle is not the only part of campus housing that has changes coming. Moody Towers will soon be replaced.

“The towers are next,” Yackley said. “In three to five years, we expect to be looking at taking down and replacing the towers.”

Construction for Moody Towers was completed in 1970Replacing the towers will be much different than the Quadrangle or any other dorm on campus, Yackley said. 

“They’re our most affordable housing option, so whatever we replace, we have to focus on affordability,” Yackley said.

Housing expects to be full for the upcoming fall semester, Yackley said.

“We hear from parents and students after they go that they want to return,” he said. “What we offer is more engaging, more involved in University activities and events, and we have more resources.”

Yackley said he wants more students to pursue on-campus options.

“The best is the proximity, you can’t beat it. Being walking minutes from your class or the student center is amazing,” Yackley said.

Despite the benefits of living on campus, post-baccalaureate computer information systems student Shaye Wreford chooses to instead live at the Campus Vue because of the freedom and extra space afforded by off-campus living. 

“I appreciate the ability to take less than 30 steps from my door to my car, as well as freedom from the rules enforced on campus,” Wreford said.

On-campus residents must purchase the same parking permit as commuter students. As a result, residential students are often parked far from their residence hall.

In 2014, the University entertained the idea of requiring freshmen to live on campus. President Renu Khator received pushback and nixed the plan before the University of Houston Board of Regents could vote on it.

That same year, University reports showed that students who live on campus have GPAs that are .01 to .11 points higher compared to their commuter peers.

Students who live on campus also have higher graduation rates, Yackley said.

“It’s a very rare and unique opportunity to live with your peers,” Yackley said. “Probably the most impactful dynamic to foster success in school is a connection to other students.”

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