UM housing in a post-Hecht Era

Hecht Residential College was torn down in July 2022 to make room for the university's new Centennial Village, which will open its doors in 2024.
Hecht Residential College was torn down in July 2022 to make room for the university’s new Centennial Village, which will open its doors in 2024. Photo credit: Dan Snitzer

The University of Miami’s first-year housing accommodations are getting an update. The Stanford and Hecht Residential College complex has long been a staple of UM’s freshman experience. However, for the first time in 50 years, UM housing will look very different for freshmen this fall.

The longstanding, 12-story Hecht Residential College, is in the process of being torn down this summer to pave the way for the brand new Centennial Village to open in 2024. Even with this exciting news, some students say that without Hecht a quintessential element of campus will be missing

“Seeing it get torn down over the summer was surreal,” senior psychology major Shane Stewart said. “It was a huge part of my freshman year and piece by piece it was getting destroyed.”

Campus improvement projects are scattered all across UM to prepare for the arrival of students in mid-August.
Campus improvement projects are scattered all across UM to prepare for the arrival of students in mid-August. Photo credit: Dan Snitzer

With the destruction of Hecht, which first opened its doors in 1968, comes the loss of over 850 beds that originally housed a majority of the freshman class. Nonetheless university officials approved the plans believing that there would not be a lack of room for students attempting to secure on-campus housing.

“Under the Housing Facility Strategic Plan, [housing] available for students was to remain fairly static during the different segments of building Lakeside and Centennial Villages,” said Richard Sobaram, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs for Housing Strategic Initiatives,in an interview with The Miami Hurricane last February.

However, the demolition of Hecht has left UM in a housing crisis. Even with Hecht last year, COVID-19 precautions and a historically large freshman class left the office of Housing & Residential Life scrambling to house students. Freshman were housed in off-campus hotels and study rooms modified into dorm rooms.

As returning sophomores and juniors applied for housing for the 2022-2023 year they found their expected spots filled by underclassmen and those remaining sold out within the first hour of scheduled appointments. This has forced hundreds of students to look for off-campus housing in spite of the UM housing guarantee and in the midst of the city of Miami’s own housing crisis that has skyrocketed rent rates throughout the area.

“After missing out on Lakeside Village last year I had no other choice but to lose my $500 housing deposit and look elsewhere,” sophomore sports management major Michael Gianetta said. “The shortage was insane.”

Lakeside Village on July 10, 2022.
Lakeside Village on July 10, 2022. Photo credit: Dan Snitzer

UM’s department for Housing and Residential Life (HRL) said it is aware of the inconvenience of this demolition and that they are working to help students find off campus housing if they were unable to secure a Lakeside, Eaton or University Village spot.

“Housing and Residential Life staff have been working diligently to try to accommodate housing needs for all students who were approved for University housing. Although there will be less housing available on campus over the next four years, HRL remains committed to working closely with sophomores and upperclassmen to identify off-campus housing solutions,” the department said in a statement earlier this year.

Stanford, like its Hecht counterpart, is scheduled to be demolished in the summer of 2024. Between the communal bathrooms and lasting memories made during late nights in the study room, Stanford has been idolized by all who have lived there.

“Living in Stanford was my favorite time at The U,” said Cal Friedman, a senior studying broadcast journalism. “It was not the nicest place, but I connected with so many people on my floor.”

While freshmen may be entering a different UM housing scene than those who have before them, they will still have ample opportunity to create the classic freshman college experience with or without Hecht.