‘Unintended consequences’

As housing strains under a large freshman class, U regents discuss solutions and changes.

Left to right, freshmen Laura Darling, Nadja Malby, Alison Gould and Grant Zastoupil hang a hammock outside of Territorial Hall in the Superblock on March 24. All four students are residents of dorms on campus.

Maddy Fox

Left to right, freshmen Laura Darling, Nadja Malby, Alison Gould and Grant Zastoupil hang a hammock outside of Territorial Hall in the Superblock on March 24. All four students are residents of dorms on campus.

Brian Edwards

Though they bonded in freshman dorms, the four friends couldn’t wait to move into a place of their own off campus.
 
 
First-year students Grant Zastoupil, Laurel Darling, Alex Mickelson and Alison Gould —  who belong to one of the University’s largest freshman classes — met in September after moving into the Centennial and Frontier residence halls.
 
 
The group illustrates what University of Minnesota administrators have long called the goal of campus housing: creating a community that boosts connections in and out of class. Now, some administrators want to pull students from private development back into University housing after freshman year.
 
 
Last May, administrators presented the Board of Regents with a new housing strategy, which laid out on-campus housing issues and possible solutions. Since then, the regents have debated goals for housing and enrollment at nearly every following meeting. 
 
 
Some members of the board favor removal or renovation of some or all of the Superblock, while other administrators are tentative to remove all four dorms, citing high costs.
 
 
In February, administrators presented a tentative 30-year plan that includes demolishing Centennial Hall and Territorial Hall and building new dorms along East River Road. 
 
 
An increase in the proportion of students living on or near campus coincided with a rise in students applying for University housing. Paired with an increase in off-campus luxury apartments, the changes have prompted leaders to address housing issues on campus. 
 
 
Years of inaction created an overflow of students applying for University housing. Luxury apartments have swelled near campus to fill the demand. 
 
 
School officials at the University and across the country have looked to the Ohio State University’s housing revamp as an example. That program entailed building apartment-style dorms and requiring second-year students to live on campus, as an example. 
 
 
Still, housing isn’t at the top of the University of Minnesota’s priority list, often taking a backseat to projects like the M Health rebranding and administrative restructuring.
 
 
As school officials work to define their plans, they remain divided on the best approach to bolster the University of Minnesota’s living spaces.
 
 
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