Snyder and Stark discuss future of campus housing at RHA meeting

University President Barbara R. Snyder and Vice President of Student Affairs Lou Stark recently spoke at a meeting of the Residence Hall Association (RHA), discussing the future of campus housing.

On-campus housing as a priority

Snyder repeatedly espoused the benefits of on-campus housing, stating that CWRU’s 80 percent residentiality is something she views as a huge positive for the university.

“One thing that I think is powerful about persuading students to live on campus is talking to other students who do live on campus and hearing what the experience is like,” said Snyder. “I think one of the reasons we are so successful at getting students to live on campus is because students who live on campus are walking advertisements for it.”

Snyder brought up studies which show that students who live on campus are more likely to have better grades and graduate on time than students living off campus, with students living on campus for at least two years 25 percent more likely to get a degree than those who haven’t.

“There are also lots of other benefits, like getting to know your fellow students and making lasting friendships,” she added.

Residence hall renovations

While neither Snyder or Stark foresee the university building another residence hall in the next few years, they do plan on renovating the current buildings, especially the aging first-year residence halls.

“One of the ways that our experts in student life think about housing is the way that our housing choices move along with you as you develop over the four years you are here,” said Snyder, referencing the transitional living model that starts freshmen in single or double bedrooms that are similar to their bedrooms at home moving upwards to seniors living in apartment-like suites.

“We look at how it plays into what you think of as development and maturity,” said Snyder.

Some students brought up the idea of relational pricing, making the first-year residence halls cheaper than the more elaborate upperclassmen buildings. However, Snyder said that the additional staff services available to freshmen make it difficult to lower prices.

“Staff resources during the first year in particular are much more intensive,” said Snyder. “Our evidence would suggest having that level of staffing in the first-year residence halls is actually pretty important.”

The future of Greek housing

One idea brought up was creating a Greek “village,” although Snyder mentioned that, while that would help foster the Greek community, it could end up being a place where non-Greek students wouldn’t feel welcome.

Another proposal is to have special Greek-only spaces within residence halls, allowing Greeks to be integrated into residence life while still creating Greek-specific community areas.

“From a community standpoint, that is most successful, deliberately integrating Greeks into the rest of the community,” said Stark.

Provost’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience

Snyder and Stark advertised for Provost Bud Baeslack’s new commission, which will take two years to look broadly at the undergraduate experience, examining everything from student life to residence halls to SAGES.

“It will also look at how things that we do in student affairs, student life and residence life activities bolster your academic growth and also the way our facilities can be made to help support academic and student life experiences that we think are important,” said Snyder.

Chaired by Professor Kim Evans from the English department, the commission will feature faculty from each of CWRU’s schools, as well as senior members from the Offices of Enrollment Management, International Affairs, Student Affairs and Undergraduate Studies and a student member.