Bowen renovation approaching

Melanie Alyea, Staff Writer

Shortly after the last day of classes in May, renovations for Bowen Hall are going to begin. Construction is scheduled to be finished by August 2017.

An email was sent out by college relations stating that upperclassmen will have to reside off campus, because the biggest dorm is being closed down.

However, any students who “have significant extenuating circumstances” can request an exception.

Like many upperclassman, Lee Villarreal, a junior graphic design major was frazzled when she found out she would have to move off campus because of the renovations.

“It was kind of a relief [to find out I had to move off campus] because I’ve always wanted to live off campus, but back then I had no job so I was worried and scared I wouldn’t find a place,” Villarreal said.

For WSC students with 75 credits or above, searching for a new place to live in such a short period of time, as well as dealing with school and finals, is causing great amounts of anxiety.

“[Finding a place to live] is kind of hard because if you don’t have a person who already has an apartment or house, you have to apply and see if you get accepted, that’s what I’ve been doing until I found a place, so it’s been a lot of waiting and being stressed out,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal is one of the lucky people who has already found a place to live.

“I was stressed and upset at the college for forcing us off all of the sudden,” junior biology major Veronica Lawrence said. “The option of living off campus has always been an option, a safety net of sorts. When they took that away, I felt kind of panicked to find a place that I could afford.”

Like the majority of students looking for a place to live, Lawrence has had the stress of not being able to find a home.

“The search for housing has been cutthroat, it has brought out the worst in some of my friends,” Lawrence said. “I was supposed to live with two of my friends, but one of them panicked and signed on a two bedroom apartment and told me good luck elsewhere.”

“Not only do we have to deal with the landlords jacking up rent to take advantage of the demand of the situation, but it is very much everyone fending for themselves.”
The process of finding a place is a very long one, especially when so many students are looking.

“[It took several months to find housing], and it seemed that every place I called had several people ahead of me interested,” Lawrence said.

Some landlords in Wayne have been accused of raising the rent because they knew that the demand for housing would increase.

“I heard a lot about landlords raising the rent, but I don’t believe in that. It’s taking advantage of a situation,” Dave Hix, a current landlord in Wayne, said.

“College students are always going to be here and there is always going to be a need,” Hix said. “If a landlord were to jack up the prices now, down the road those students are going to tell other ones and you’re going to get a bad reputation as the one who took advantage.”

Hix believes that the city of Wayne can do something to ease the stress of some students.

“I hope to see that the city changes its policy that allows only four people per house. Maybe let up to five people a house just to help the situation,” Hix said.

Because Bowen Hall will be closed throughout the renovation process, many displaced students will be put into overflow housing.

Wayne State has seven residence halls that house a total of around 1,585 students, according to Residence Life, with Bowen Hall holding the most students at 445.

The second largest dorm is Berry that houses up to 306 students, followed by Morey (231), Neihardt (162), Anderson (160), Terrace (141) and Pile with 140 residents.

With students filling overflow housing, select double-occupancy rooms that are big enough will have a third bed added temporarily until a regular space is available in a two-person room.

“All occupants in a room with a temporary third bed will receive a 20 percent housing fee discount during the time that the room designed for two students is occupied by three people,” accoding to the WSC website. “Students will have an opportunity to choose this option to automatically receive the 20 percent discount.”

With overflow housing in effect, even resident assistants for the 2016-2017 year will be assigned a roommate. RA’s will be able to request a roommate and if both the roommate and the RA agree, the roommate will be assigned.

“Even with Bowen Hall closed, there are enough other on-campus spaces to house all freshmen, as well as all the sophomores and juniors who typically choose to live on campus, but there aren’t enough spaces for seniors too,” Dr. Jeff Carstens, Dean of Students said. “Seniors were excluded because they are the most experienced students and therefore the best able to adjust to living off campus. While it may be challenging for seniors to find off campus housing, it would be more difficult for freshmen and even other underclassmen to do so.”

This is the reason why it was decided that students who currently have 75 cumulative credit hours were chosen to live off-campus.

Despite all the displaced students, it is estimated that only 50-75 fewer students will be living on campus in fall 2016, compared to fall 2015.

The restriction of upperclassmen living off campus will be in effect for fall 2016 and spring 2017. Beginning in fall 2017, when the Bowen renovation is complete, seniors will be allowed to live on campus again.

“After renovations, Bowen will house 432 students,” Carstens said. “Eight current student rooms will be converted into 4 new study lounges, which will reduce the total occupancy by 16 students.”
Dorm renovations are not unusual for schools to do, Wayne has already fully renovated Neihardt, Pile and Terrace Halls.

“All residence halls receive periodic improvements and repairs,” Carstens said. “Full renovation of Anderson, Berry and Morey halls will be undertaken as funds become available, but specific renovation priorities and timelines have not yet been established.”