The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Raising the bar on resident life

Boaz Hall was the last to be renovated
Boaz Hall was the last to be renovated

Boaz Hall was the last to be renovated

Nearly 1,900 students live in Vista Del Sol apartment complex on the Arizona State University Tempe campus, which includes a fitness center, tanning beds, game room and movie theater inside the 10-building community. Adjoining the center is a heated swimming pool, outdoor lounge areas, and basketball and sand volleyball courts.

Loft-Right, a student residence hall at DePaul University, offers granite countertops, satellite TV hookups, a pool table, a fireplace and private bedrooms. Boston University’s Student Village offers laundry-status notification that connects to a student’s laptop, as well as walk-in closets.

But these increased amenities also mean a bigger price tag.

All ASU students living in Vista Del Sol have a 12-month lease. A single bedroom apartment for one student costs $1,000 a month ($12,000 per year). Two students living in a two-bedroom apartment pay $675 a month ($8,100 per year). Four students living in a four-bedroom apartment pay $575 a month ($6,900 per year).

Traditional ASU residence hall prices vary from about $4,100 to $6,000 for an academic year.

Students who want a single room in a four-person apartment at BU’s Student Village pay $12,840 for an academic year. Traditional dormitory-style residence halls can cost a BU student between $7,710 and $10,740.

Students at the University of Texas have another option: “off-campus living residences.” UT freshman Michael Ramsey’s dorm, named “The Castilian,” isn’t on campus—it’s across the street.

The Castilian is not regulated or endorsed by UT, but offers a dorm-type environment. Students are assigned roommates and Resident Assistants similar to the housing on the UT campus.

“I don’t know if I would say “posh,” but it is very nice,” Ramsey said. “It is certainly a popular choice among students, due to both its location and its freedom, which makes it a tad more like an apartment setting than a typical dorm setting.”

Ramsey’s dorm also has “very nice” granite countertops, a tanning bed and laundry-status notification.

Shared dorms at UT cost students between $8,184 and $10,166; students who want a single room in a UT residence hall pay anywhere from $9,772 to $14,232.
Nationally, more and more students are requesting single rooms, according to Josh Coco, director of residence life at Centenary College in Shreveport, La.

“It seems like people want single rooms more than anything,” he wrote in an e-mail interview. “That has also been the case here [at Centenary] and once single rooms can become more affordable, nearly all students will have this.”

Ramsey said he looked at dorms on campus, but chose to live off-campus because they could guarantee him a single room, which was very important to him.

“My dorm offers a lot of freedom,” he said. “People are allowed to have guests stay the night regardless of gender, people are allowed to smoke in the garage and outside the building, there is no curfew, and those who are 21 or older are allowed to drink; although while drinking they have to have the door open.”

The college housing market is also seeing an increasing trend toward apartment-style living. Coco credited students’ wishes to become more independent. “Many people want the feel of living in an apartment because it makes it seem more like you are on your own,” he wrote.

Space is always in demand, according to Coco, as well as anything new.

“In the halls, people always want more space and new stuff,” he wrote. “They don’t care if it’s new blinds or new floors, but they like to see the changes made even if it is something small.”

SMU has also seen recent renovations to its residence halls. But Susan Strobel-Hogan, assistant director of assignments and marketing for Residence Life and Student Housing, said the university is moving toward residential colleges rather than apartment-style housing. These residential colleges would most likely be theme- or academic-based and offer classes within residence halls. Professors would live with students in the dorms.
SMU already has two examples of a residential college-type situation. Virginia-Snider is home to the honors program, which lets residents live with a professor and take classes within their dorm. Hilltop scholars live and attend classes within the Perkins and Smith dorms.

“Lots of people across campus are talking about what [the residential colleges] would be,” she said, noting that officials aren’t looking into the types of amenities to offer, but questioning the type of environment they want to offer at SMU.

SMU Junior Alexis Bennett, who lives in Shuttles Hall, isn’t sure she’d like to live in a residential-type college similar to what SMU proposing.

“I never participated in a dorm like that, but I could see positives and negatives in that situation,” she said. “On one side it would be great to roll out of bed and go right into class in your own building, but on the other hand, I love walking across our campus and think that aspect of college life might suffer from having everything right there in your dorm.”
SMU also bucks the national trend when it comes to single rooms. Hogan said single-room requests mainly come from upperclassmen, as opposed to incoming freshmen.

“Lots of first years don’t want single rooms,” she said, explaining that many freshmen feel that living with a roommate will help them make friends.

SMU freshman and Boaz Hall resident Morgan Toal feels that too few upperclassmen are living on campus.

“I like the accessibility that comes with living on campus, but I feel like it’s mainly freshman and only a handful of upperclassmen,” Toal said. “I would probably suggest that Boaz be open to all students as opposed to just freshmen. I think it creates a lot of unnecessary problems that could be avoided with the mere presence of older students.”

Toal feels that more upperclassmen won’t live on campus until prices are lowered.
“The discrepancies in prices amongst the residence halls really isn’t that much,” Toal said. “But the fact that you can comfortably [live] off campus for much less than you can while paying room and board at SMU is a huge deterrent for students considering living on campus all four years.”

The university does plan to implement a sophomore housing requirement, according to Hogan, but can’t do so until more residence halls are built. Hogan said the university’s plans were put on hold when the economy stalled.

“About the time the capital campaign was announced, the economy went south really quickly. So [new housing] is on hold, for the moment, unless some donor were to walk in the door and say ‘I want you to build something now, here’s the money to do it,'” she said. “I had a boss once who said ‘All it takes is money,’ and it’s true.”

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