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Student Senate unveils Housing Master Plan, appoints new senators

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Student Senate met to discuss the 10-year Housing Master Plan and appoint three new senators in their first meeting Wednesday night.

Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Ryan Lombardi gave the only presentation to the senate body – an insider look at the Housing Master Plan he inherited after filling the position of Dr. Kent Smith. The 10-year plan outlines a complete makeover of South Green residence halls, most of which will be torn down.

Lombardi explained that the residence halls behind the front four, what the university calls the “New South,” though students generally refer to it as “Dirty South,” would be demolished. Those buildings, he said, were made in a rush because of an enrollment boom in the 1970s. Since that time, the unsound infrastructure has proven to be a costly expense for university.

The Master Plan consists of two main phases: the first is to build suite-style residence halls where Wolf Street parking lot and the Adams Hall outside parking lot sit, creating 900 new beds; the second is to demolish the New South residence halls and build new, more efficient suites in their place. The plan does not intend to increase or decrease the amount of beds South Green currently has.

“We are doing this in phases because a lot could change in ten years,” Lombardi said. “We want to have that flexibility to make tweaks along the way.”

The university will break ground this coming summer.

Other parts of the plan will include a more pedestrian-friendly campus, removing the parking lot and road behind Morton Hall and expand “South beach” to Clippinger Hall. The university also plans to move the South Green residence hall farther away from the flood plane of the Hocking River. The front four catwalks will also be stripped and replaced with a grassy area to improve aesthetics.

The parking lots, Lombardi explained, will be moved to the perimeter of the campus to make students’ morning walks safer.

Not only will freshman and sophomore on-campus residents benefit, but members of intramural or club sports will also get to take advantage of the opened green space: intramural fields will be moved directly behind the South Green new residence halls, making the fields closer to the campus.

Currently, there is no concrete plan for what to do with the old intramural fields, Lombardi said, but they could be a possible candidate for parking.

Senate members raised concerns over preserving the historical aspects of OU’s architecture. The wind mill and clock tower situated atop Wray House will be moved to a new residence building, and even more so, some of the architectural elements – such as bricks from the Wolf Street Apartments – have been preserved to be used in the new buildings.

“What we’ve heard from students is that the suite-style is generally more favored,” Lombardi said. Lombardi also explained that students favor the mod-style room. “What we’re trying to do is build a community feel.”

“We’re trying to get away from those super long corridors to the end of time, so we’re trying to break them up into smaller segments,” he said. Lombardi also said that suite-style rooms are less expensive to maintain.

To fund the Housing Master Plan, the university plans to pay for a third of the cost in cash, said Lombardi, and will assume two-thirds of the cost as debt. This may include the maximum 3.5 percent housing cost increase each year until the university is able to pay off the debt.

Last year, the university raised housing rates by 2.5 percent as part of the Housing Master Plan.

A public open forum on the Housing Master Plan will be held all day, Tuesday, Jan. 22, on the third floor of Baker Center.

Senate appointed three new senators during its meeting: Daniel Mussard as senator for the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Carter Phillips as senator for Off-Campus Life, and Kelsey Crowley as the second senator for West Green.

 

 

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