This semester Western has seen a slight drop in residential life. Approximately 150 to 200 students will leave on-campus housing from the fall semester to the spring.
According to Director of Residential Life Nathan Roberts, shifts in housing numbers are to be expected from fall to spring semester.
“There is… always a drop from fall to spring, but that is not unique to Missouri Western. That drop is usually about ten percent,” Roberts said.
In the fall of 2015, the university changed the credit hour requirement for students to live on campus from nine credit hours to twelve. Roberts said enrollment depends on graduation rates, what the university is doing to market, and other factors, including whether students get in-state tuition. This decision caused a decrease in the number of students who reside in the dorm.
According to Kristen Neeley, New Student Experience Director, the decrease in housing numbers has had a positive impact on campus crime reports.
“It was a planned decrease; we wanted to have students that were more serious about their education. Typically, students who were taking nine or eleven credit hours that were allowed to live on campus had more time on their hands. I can tell you that last year’s incident reports and this year’s incident reports are significantly down. Our retention rate from the spring of students coming back to live in the dorms is significantly higher,” said Neeley.
The College Completion team, composed of representatives from student affairs, academic affairs and faculty, were the ones to make the decision.
“When you make a late decision to attend college, there are more hurdles to overcome, such as book buying, [and] financial aid concerns. I stand by that decision as far as being on that committee. It’s helped students more. When students aren’t happy on campus, they will tell five people; when you are happy, you’ll tell one,” said Neeley. “The students that used to leave in the middle of the year are now not even coming; this is helping morale.”
Neeley has seen a complete turnaround after this decision. She thinks people seem to be happy, so she hopes that there will be an increase next fall in enrollment in the dorms.
In addition to decreasing the number of incident reports, Residential Hall Director Jamie Exline is hopeful that the staff can help boost student morale through social programs and events.
“We’re trying to make sure the students are happy here; we are reaching out to their needs and making sure they are socialized. We encourage students to get out and meet people,” said Exline.
Currently, the dorms are not at capacity. Griffon, for example, is at 72 percent capacity; Leverton at 73 percent ;Vaselakos at 74 percent; Scanlon at 68 percent; Juda at 86 percent;Logan at 80 percent; and Beshears at 85 percent capacity.
The cost to live in each dorm is based primarily on the amenities and square footage, with Griffon being the most expensive option.
Scanlon Hall recently expanded its residency to accommodate upperclassmen. In previous years, Scanlon was exclusively available to first year students. Scanlon is the most economical option for students.
“There has been a slow progression of upperclassmen moving over to Scanlon,” said Roberts.“Students who are looking for a cheaper place to live will see that as an option. They just have to overcome the stigma that it is a freshman building.”
No immediate changes are expected for residential life, but student feedback will be a determining factor for any future decisions in the residential halls.