The University of St. Thomas is considering building a new residence hall on campus in addition to Guinan Hall and asked students for input in a survey sent out in September.
According to Director of Residence Life Ana Alicia Lopez, the unprecedented size of UST’s 2018 freshman class, and UST President Richard Ludwick’s Call Toward Tomorrow plan, which prioritizes enrollment, made the University consider a new hall to accommodate the influx of students.
According to Lopez and Lindsey McPherson, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students, the survey was done to ensure that students would be happy with the final result. The survey included questions about room type such as single, double or triple rooms and whether the rooms should be suite or dorm-style. Amenities proposed in the survey included group and private study rooms, a gym and an open kitchen space for students to use.
A final structural design and location must be determined before moving forward with the project.
McPherson said several locations, including a lot on Graustark Street across from the Guinan residence hall are being considered as possible sites for the building.
“We want to be very strategic and not just say, ‘oh there’s an open spot, we want to put something there,’ McPherson said.
McPherson also said she does not have an estimate for the housing costs of a new residence hall. Lopez and McPherson both said they don’t know where funding for the proposed project would come from.
McPherson said affordability for students was an important component of the survey. One section asked students how much they would be willing to pay for off-campus housing so UST can remain a more affordable local option, she said.
Lopez said residence life has learned in recent years that some students are willing to live in triple rooms, which are more affordable.There are currently 25 triple rooms on campus, she said.
Lopez and McPherson both said they do not think UST’s upcoming athletic division change from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III, which means incoming athletes will no longer be offered athletic scholarships, will influence where athletes choose to live.
“Athletes tend to live on campus with or without the scholarships just because of the convenience,” McPherson said.
McPherson said UST’s administration is very interested in getting student input as it explores new student housing, and that it hopes to continue the conversation beyond the survey. She encouraged students to reach out to their student government representatives, to herself or to Lopez with questions and comments about the process.