By: Christine Lena
Students at Western Michigan University do not need to complain about on-campus dorms any longer.
According to the student-reviewed university website collegeprowler.com, feedback shows most complaints of WMU are about on-campus housing, specifically how old all of the buildings are. Currently, all on-campus housing holds about 6,205 students, given that 88 percent are freshman living on campus.
But now WMU is going through what was established as “Plan 2015.” The building plan is for new and renovated residence halls and dining for 6,800 students to live in. Reportedly, WMU has spent $30 million on new campus housing dining facilities since 2006, and the plan calls for $84 million more in spending, according to an MLive article.
Steven Palmer, director of WMU residence life, says the plan is part of a larger 20-year plan. Refurbishing Eldridge/Fox Hall began this year at the pace of $1 million a year to compensate for the Hoekje/Bigelow demolition. Plan 2015 includes a new dining facility in the Valley neighborhood, the new Western View 2 (phase 2), the Western View Community Center, and new residence halls going up where Hoekje/Bigelow were.
“We’ve been working on the new halls for more than a year now and continue to do so. It’s an exciting never-ending process that has many areas of the university involved,” he says.
Palmer says very few complaints have reached his desk this year and says more often he hears positive feedback from both students and parents about staff going the extra mile like with hall leadership and job opportunities. Otherwise, Palmer, who has been working at WMU since 2001, says he receives typical complaints about small room sizes, roommate complaints, or no air-conditioning. This contradicts a hot topic students have been talking about with halls having large waiting lists and this year being even worse in regards to overall problems more than years’ past.
“I think that students have realized, recently more than ever, the convenience of living on campus as well as the resources we provide with on-campus housing,” Palmer says about why housing seems backed up this year.
Mary Salisbury, 19, a sophomore at WMU, says she had a problem with her housing this year. Salisbury said she signed up for housing in French Hall to room with a friend, but in August, her housing contract was cancelled without any notice and she had no idea why. Salisbury said she called residence life many times and was told she had a payment that didn’t get through to the school. Salisbury took care of the payment but by that time the room with her friend was filled with someone else and she was put in Siedschlag Hall instead.
“At first I wasn’t happy at all with that hall because I wasn’t with my friend like we planned. But now I guess I am since I’ve settled in and things aren’t as crazy as they were when everything was happening,” she says.
Salisbury was grateful for residence life to answering all her questions but the one thing she wishes would improve would be getting multiple notices about something as important as her contract being cancelled.
The new halls replacing Hoekje/Bigelow, which were popular dorms to live in, will hold about 700-750 students, which was about what Hoekje/Bigelow held. They will also have many more improvements compared to the old buildings, like air-conditioning. They will have a unique lay-out with a style of living spaces being the only one of its kind in Michigan and the Midwest that Palmer says he’s aware of.