University searching for housing options

In response to the increase of admitted students over the past three years, the Office of Residence Life has scrambled to create feasible housing solutions, resulting in constricted conditions, said Jim McMahon, assistant vice president of ORL.

Over the past five years, the incoming freshman class has grown from about 1,686 to about 1,800 students. The large number of students spurred a need for more residential spaces on campus.

Some solutions are already being put in place, McMahon said. They include auxiliary student housing such as the Hilton City Center and the conversion of lounge spaces into residential spaces.

McMahon said the university is exploring other options to accommodate students living in residence halls next year.

"Our top priority is to ensure that there is a space in the residence halls for all incoming students and sophomores for next year," McMahon said.

He said the university wants to help students feel connected and give them an ability to interact, which can happen best when students live on campus.

"I think that's what distinguishes us from other universities," McMahon said.

Before Marquette decides on anything permanent, it has to explore several options, said Toby Peters, associate vice president in the Office of Administration.

"We are looking at the entire situation and we'll do what's best for the university," Peters said.

One issue involves the Hilton residents. About half the male residents at the Hilton are already placed in permanent housing, according to McMahon. The remaining students will be relocated when enough space opens up to accommodate all of them.

McMahon said he hopes this will happen at the end of the semester. The delay is necessary because the university does not want to split the 13 remaining Hilton community members and leave only a few people there.

One Hilton resident said he and other students at the residence hall had mixed feelings about the situation.

"We have our own bathrooms and the maids come once a week," said Marquette Student Government's Hilton residential senator Pat Landry, a College of Arts & Sciences freshman. "It just doesn't feel like it would in a dorm. There's no dining hall and there's 13 people staying in the whole space."

Questions have been raised about another male residence hall, McMahon said. South Hall signed a three-year lease with the university last year. Next year, Marquette has to decide if it should renew the lease.

"We've got to look to the future and see what's coming," McMahon said.

Other options the university is considering are relocating the Office of Residence Life from the second floor of Carpenter Tower to make room for residential spaces.

McMahon said the second floor of Mashuda Hall, a conference room, could be refurbished into living space.

Marquette is also talking to nearby private landlords about leases or options for upperclassmen and graduate students.

McMahon said such alternatives are being deliberated but nothing has been decided.

The university has already made changes to existing housing to accommodate students.

About 100 beds have been added in university-owned apartments, according to McMahon.

Marquette will continue to practice already-existing housing sign-up regulations, like priority for first-year students and the elimination of squatters' rights.

McMahon said the university hired a private developer to revamp the Bockl Building, 2040 W. Wisconsin Ave., which will have 24-hour security personnel and a fitness room.

The university looked at other options, such as sophomores involved in Greek life living in fraternity and sorority houses or sophomores in apartments. McMahon said those were unlikely situations.

"There has been a huge bed of data that suggests sophomores perform better academically if they live on campus," McMahon said.