Senate Recap: New housing to be built, amendment alters referendum process

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Jim Smart, Executive Director for Housing and Residential Life, speaks at the weekly Senate Meeting in the Shalala Student Center Tuesday evening about upcoming housing construction. Housing and Residential Life aims to improve community interaction with plans to build more community spaces such as conference, study, and multipurpose rooms. Shreya Chidarala // Assistant Photo Editor

James Smart, executive director for Housing and Residential Life, speaks at the weekly Senate Meeting in the Shalala Student Center on Tuesday evening about upcoming housing construction. Housing and Residential Life aims to improve community interaction with plans to build more community spaces such as conference, study and multipurpose rooms. Shreya Chidarala // Assistant Photo Editor

New housing to be built

The campus has plans to construct two new residential housing villages: Ibis Village for upperclassmen and Freshman Village for first-years. Unveiled to the Student Government senators, the villages will consist of apartments and suites.

The strategic plan for the student housing facilities was explained by Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life James Smart. The plan is to start construction on Ibis Village in the summer of 2016, with the estimated date of completion being June 2018.

“For upperclassmen, there will be two buildings in the Ibis village: the Merrick Apartments and Gables Suites,” Smart said. “There will be many features such as a great room, a dining hall and hopefully a LGBT administration office on the ground floor.”

A rendering of the building could not be provided as plans are still in the initial stages and are subject to change.

Ibis Village, an estimated $167.2 million project, would be located on Dickinson Drive to the left of Pavia Garage and what will be the newly-built Merrick Garage.

The Merrick Apartments would be similar to some of the apartments in the existing University Village: an option of a four-bedroom apartment with a shared living room or a one-bedroom apartment. The Gables Suites would be similar to existing suites on campus with a shared bathroom but would include a shared living room as well.

As discussed by President Julio Frenk earlier in the semester, the plan is for all future buildings to be gender-neutral.

The rooms in the Freshman Village will have the same layout as the rooms in the Stanford and Hecht Residential Colleges, but they plan to have more than one bathroom per floor rather than the current communal bathroom setup.

The Freshman Village will be located near the current dormitories. The current Stanford and Hecht buildings will be torn down but their names will be preserved. How they will be preserved has yet to be discussed. Smart hopes that construction will start in 2018 and will be completed by 2020.

“We are keeping Eaton, Mahoney and Pearson though, as they are historical,” Smart said. “They have old bones but are important to us.”

All buildings will be outfitted with impact-proof glass and hurricane shutters, which must be installed by law in Florida. The windows will be able to withstand a category-three hurricane.

Student Government was to fit buildings with LED lighting for environmental sustainability, and that remains the plan, according to Smart.

“Our goal is to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver [certified],” he said.

In addition to the existing University Village and North Village, which is the Mahoney-Pearson dormitories, the campus hopes to have four villages by the end of 2020.

Referendum

Senators amended the constitution regarding when students submit a referendum initiation.

A referendum submitted by the student body can only be initiated in the spring semester of every school year and the campaign must have at least 500 students’ identification numbers in support of the petition.

This amendment came after the debacle during the Ibis Yearbook and Distraction Magazine referendums, in which some senators were not happy that the two student publications requested additional funding.

The amendment also states that the Elections Commission will reserve the right to request a review of the budget of any organization seeking additional funding.

Furthermore, before being able to vote on the proposed referendum, students must vote for the future president, vice president and treasurer of Student Government.

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2 Comments

  1. How about we spend that money on the football team coaching staff to generate even more revenue?

  2. This housing plan sounds okay, but where are the plans for graduate student housing? We comprise more than 25% of students on campus yet get 0% of housing. UM Housing & Residential Life, you want to comment on why you’re leaving a quarter of your student population out of the 5+ year plan?