Robin Huiras

Cost and convenience seem to be the deciding factors when choosing a place to live for University students, according to a recent report completed by the Office of the Vice President for Student Development and Athletics.
The report compiles 25 years of housing information explaining trends in student housing. University officials said housing preferences change depending on the year of the student. Residence hall life seems to be a favorite for lower division students, while most juniors and seniors prefer off-campus housing.
Erin Jutila, a College of Liberal Arts freshman, said the residence halls are the best choice for her. “I like meeting people, and it’s convenient because it’s close to campus,” she said.
Reasons for opting to stay in the halls vary among students, but convenience and the ability to make friends have consistently been the top two advantages, said Ralph Rickgarn, coordinator of student behavior at the Office of Housing and Residential Life.
Rickgarn said that as few as six years ago, four of the eight residence halls had vacancies at the beginning of fall quarter. But with the enforcement of a new policy in 1995 guaranteeing housing to all incoming freshman, the number of students living in residence halls has steadily increased. Starting two years ago, it has gone over the maximum capacityof 4,736, forcing some freshmen into lounges and hotel rooms.

Former hall resident Eliza Williams, a CLA junior, said meeting friends was an advantage of hall life. “I could always knock on someone’s door — there were always people around,” she said.
Nancy Lee, assistant director of operations and appointments in the housing office, said she believes the main reason students choose to live in the halls is management.
“It’s easier in terms of managing classes, friends, activities and time,” Lee said.
“The halls facilitated a good learning environment,” Williams said. “Everyone is there for the same reason, for an education. However, it was often hard to study in my room.”
Jutila added that having access to computer labs is also an attraction to residence halls.
“Students stay in the halls a year or two and then decide to explore new avenues,” Rickgarn said.
Sue Pilarski, manager of off-campus housing, said most of the students who come into the office to look at off-campus listings are juniors, seniors and graduate students.
Ivan Tortosa, a CLA sophomore and former Sanford Hall resident, said it was the food that drove him off campus.
“I didn’t have to cook, but I didn’t like the food. That’s why I left,” he said.
Williams said moving off campus offered escape. “There is no one around deciding what you can and cannot do.”
Tom Torkelson, a CLA senior who owns a house off campus, said the halls restricted him. “Living off campus allows for control of my environment, and it is actually cheaper for me to live off campus.”
Cost outweighs the convenience factor for students putting themselves through school without financial aid, said Brandon Milles, a senior at the University who lives with his family. “It is the only affordable choice.”
Joe Head, a CLA freshman from Brooklyn Park who also lives with his parents, said living off campus is cheaper than living in the halls. “Living at home is a big money-saver. Living in the halls would put me into debt,” he added.
Although the majority of students living off campus are upper division, some freshman are looking for an alternative to residence hall life.
About 180 freshman have come into the University housing office compared to less than 100 last year, Pilarski said.
While the reasons freshmen opt to live off campus vary, the most common reason is cost.
“One-half of the students leaving the halls cite financial reasons,” Lee said.
Because many students are looking for the convenience of the halls without the restrictions, many housing officials are pointing to apartment-style housing as the next wave. Near-campus buildings, such as Dinnaken and Argyle Houses, and the on-campus Roy Wilkins Hall are popular, and University administrators have plans to build more buildings like them.