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Decrease in campus living accomodations

Illustration by: Emma Cason-Pratt

In an e-mail to students and faculty at the end of the winter break, the University of Miami announced the closing of the student apartment area after this semester.

Since the introduction of better accommodations and nearby apartments like Red Road Commons nearby University Village, the school claims that the closures are a result of declining interest in the apartments area as the buildings are no longer meeting student or university expectations.

“The decision had nothing to do with safety concerns,” said Jim Smart, director of the Department of Residence Halls. “These are old buildings that everyone knew were not going to be around forever. We would never put students in a housing situation that is unsafe.”

According to Smart, there has been discussion surrounding the future of the apartment area for a number of years. In the past, the school has closed or converted similar apartment buildings to create space for buildings like the BankUnited Center and the new Fieldhouse.

“We knew a decision was imminent last summer but did not know exactly what would happen,” said Smart who elaborated by saying that senior levels of the administration led the change. “It was important for us to know far enough in advance so as to prepare for next year.”

As a direct result of the apartments’ closure, the Department of Residence Halls has decided to institute a lottery system to decide on the order in which students are able to select on campus housing. Although UM is among a limited number of universities who do not already use a lottery system, the school has decided that it will begin the new process in early February.

Beginning Feb. 5 until Feb. 19, students will “opt-in” to the lottery pool via the online myUM system in order for the university to have a rough idea on the number of students interested.

“We don’t think we will need to displace students because of this,” Smart said. “This process is defensive if anything. It is quite likely that everyone will have a spot that wants one.”

After the opt-in phase, UM will announce the results of the lottery process on March 1 and intends to send students information as it becomes available about the particulars of the new procedures.

It has not yet been made public knowledge about exactly what is destined to happen with the buildings, whether they would be converted into some other space or torn down entirely. However, many students agree with the new decision.

“To be honest this isn’t a big surprise,” said Ramon Sarrallé, a senior living in one of the student apartments. “There are better options available now for similar prices, most people would be better served to look other places anyway”.

Although they may have been old, other students are already voicing their distaste over the decision.

“I think there is enough demand and interest to keep these apartments intact, ” said Brian Law, a junior architecture major. “The apartments were very unique to Miami as they were still on campus but they weren’t the dorms. It’s a sad loss for the university.”

The Department of Residence Halls will continue to provide help in searching for off-campus housing and in just a few weeks they are likely to be busier than ever.

Bryan Sheriff may be contacted at bsheriff@themiamihurricane.com.

January 20, 2010

Reporters

Bryan Sheriff


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