Thursday, February 01, 2001

Don't call it Sander

UC's Jefferson Halls tries new concept in student living

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Today's college students no longer are willing to live in college dorms designed for their parents' generation.

        To meet those changing demands, and to recruit and retain high-quality students, the University of Cincinnati embarked on a campus-residence revolution Wednesday, announcing a new concept in student living: the $39 million Jefferson Halls complex.

        Even the word dorm may go the way of Sander Hall, UC's youngest dorm when it was demolished nearly 10 years ago.

[photo] The Jefferson Halls complex features apartments for students, complete with private baths and kitchens.
(Architect's rendering)
| ZOOM |
        At that time, students inexplicably vandalized the 1971 coed dorm until it had to be destroyed. It was imploded in 1991.

        Today, UC has fewer than 3,000 beds and almost all of them are filled by freshmen, forcing others to take their money elsewhere.

        “We have a real demand of 9,000 to 10,000 beds,” Vice President Mitchel Livingston said.

        As the first step in the revolution, UC held a symbolic groundbreaking for Jefferson Halls on Wednesday in what now is the school's newest dorm, Daniels, built four years before Sander Hall in 1967.

        Jefferson Halls, expected to open in September 2002 at Jefferson and University avenues, will house 550 students. Each apartment will have one or two beds, a private bath, living room and a small kitchen.

        Jefferson Halls range from four to seven floors, face lawns and courtyards and abut the proposed student recreation facility.

        The buildings probably will house honors students in one section and upperclassmen in the others, Dr. Livingston said. To make the new dorms even more attractive, residents won't have to pay for cafeteria meals, and building managers probably will replace resident advisers.

        All of that appeals to Chris Adamson. The freshman from Fairview Park, Ohio, “definitely” is interested in moving from Daniels into Jefferson.

        “From what I've heard, it sounds pretty cool,” he said, “but I want to see what the rules are first.”

        Not so for freshmen roommates Abby Sutton of Van Wert, Ohio, and Amber Bergstedt of Liberty Center.

        They've had it with Daniels, dorms and UC food. Next year, they're moving into private campus-fringe housing “to live on our own, to have more independence,” Ms. Sutton said. “We're looking at the house tonight.”

        Another reason to move is resident advisers, Ms. Bergstedt said. “They're over your shoulder constantly.”

        Jefferson Halls reflect broader thinking at UC, where the ideal was moving commuters on and off campus as efficiently as possible. Now, students increasingly want a traditional college experience, living on campus or close enough to walk to class.

        In addition, said Dr. Livingston, “All of the research shows that students who live on campus do better — significantly — than those who live off-campus.”

        All of this is reflected in UC's new 15-year housing plan, Dr. Livingston said. It includes low-rise apartments with at least 2,500 beds across campus, possibly 3,000 privately built but university-managed apartments in neighboring communities, and major renovations to existing dorms.

        Details will be clearer in March, when the plan is presented to trustees, University architect Ron Kull said.

        UC dorms have an occupancy rate of 103 percent in the first week of fall quarter — when some students sleep in lounges until officials know who isn't going to show — to about 90 percent at the end of spring quarter.

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