COLUMBIA — MU residence halls have been undergoing a series of renovations aimed at improving student on-campus living, but it comes at a cost to the students who happen to be living in the halls when they’re closed for construction.
In 2001, MU started what has been named the Residential Life Master Plan, which will either renovate or completely rebuild all of MU’s residence halls within 18 years. The total project will cost about $360 million.
Since 2001, five residence halls have been demolished to make room for newer, more accommodating buildings. Some, including College Avenue Hall and Southwest Campus Housing, have already been completed. The Mid-Campus Housing project, which will construct a new residence hall complex, is scheduled to be done in fall 2009.
In addition, Schurz, Graham and Defoe halls are undergoing renovations to update the amenities of each building. This may include central air conditioning, elevator installation, new flooring and ceilings and, in some cases, the creation of study areas.
Most of the hall renovations have been or are scheduled to begin during the middle of the school year. The halls are closed in the middle of the semester because it shortens the amount of time during the academic school year that they will have to be closed, said Frankie Minor, director of residential life.
“We need about 16 to 18 months for the renovation project,” he said. “We could close them for two years, but that means that our bed count will be lower for the school year by 200 to 400 beds. That means we wouldn’t be able to meet the demand that we would normally have for students.”
However, closing a residence hall in the middle of a school year means moving the students who were previously housed there.
“When I was first assigned to Hatch, I was pretty upset about having to move halfway through the year,” said senior Becca Allgire, who had to move out of Hatch Hall in the 2006 winter semester while it was being renovated. “I thought it would be difficult to move to a whole new building and that I wouldn’t stay as close with my friends from Hatch because we had only lived together for four months.”
Students who have to be relocated are asked during the fall where they would like to live, and if they have a specific roommate in mind. This year, Residential Life was able to place every male pair that wanted to room together and all but seven of the female pairs. However, this was not the case last year.
“I had planned to move in with a friend in another hall, but when the time came we weren’t placed together,” said sophomore Matt Rose, a former Schurz Hall resident. “He and I were very upset since we had done everything correctly, and he ended up with a different roommate from Schurz.”
When pairs that request each other are not able to live in the same room, Residential Life will still do its best to place them in the hall they requested, but separately in rooms that already have an occupant.
“The new roommate I got was really nice and helpful, even though no one told her I was coming,” sophomore Ashley Hawkins said.
Hawkins was also unable to live with her requested roommate after Schurz Hall was closed.
Graham and Defoe halls, located on Hitt Street, were this year’s winter semester closings. Not only will they undergo interior renovations, but a link will be added between the two, which Minor said will add approximately 60 beds.
Schurz Hall, which was closed in the 2007 winter semester, is scheduled to reopen in the fall. Hudson Hall is scheduled to close in the 2009 winter semester.