Starting in the 2014-2015 academic year, all live-in staff, such as community advisers, academic resource coordinators and assistant directors, will have roommates in order to make more room for more students who want to live on campus. All staff members will have the opportunity to self-select their roommates.
This next year, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is not saying no to students who are applying for housing. Director of Residential Living Brian Faust stated that Residential Living wants to be able to help out admissions in the sense of recruitment of students as well as the campus.
“The chancellor would like us to get to about 10,000 students, so if we are going to be gaining 300 students and I know that not all of them want to live on campus, but some of them are going to want to live on campus; where are they going to live if we are already full?” Faust said.
Brian stated that all residence halls, with the exception of the suites, will be affected by this change. The students with single rooms in Hyer hall will also see a gradual change this school year.
“We will still let students sign up for the single rooms until the end of the school year this school year and what is left over, then we will see what rooms are left open at that point. We will start double up those rooms,” Faust said.
“UWSP used to have roommates for all the CAs and then when enrollment went down 20 years ago they closed down Hyer hall. They had too many beds wide open,” Faust said. “So at that point they gave staff members single rooms because of the occupancy numbers.”
Faust also stated that since the occupancy numbers are tight and are projected to possibly increase, UWSP had to make changes. All live-in staff will be compensated up to $500 in accordance with this decision.
These changes are also necessary for increasing the amount of available living space for students who want or need to live on campus.
“We have always accommodated freshmen and sophomores regardless of when they applied, but for the past few years we have turned away numerous students who are two or more years out of high school and who applied after May or June,” said Susan Malnory, the Assistant Director for Administrative Services.
Malnory mentioned that residential living has given a great deal of consideration to any problems associated with assigning live-in staff members with roommates. This dilemma is not unprecedented at UW schools or UWSP. Each campus has resources that residential living can draw upon to look into issues that may arise next year.
Along with the challenges among staff the problem will be addressed in the same way as similar challenges: engaging the roommates in open discussion and working toward compromise, tolerance and mutual respect.
“With more than 120 staff members taking roommates we have no illusions that it will be completely problem-free. Our student staff will have the support of an extended professional staff group whose mission is to promote the personal growth of all students, including our student staff members,” Malnory said.
Student concerns range from privacy issues, such as the high risk for breaches in confidentiality or the possibility that students may become more reluctant to go to hall staff members when taking care of the many personal issues that may arise in a dormitory.
“In my opinion I believe it is a bad idea that staff members will have roommates,” Student X said. “They have single rooms so students can go there if they have a personal problem, academic problem or any other problem that they need help figuring out. They can go there without the feeling that they will be judged.”
Student O said that privacy was a major issue for him and that making this decision without the opinion of the live-in staff was unfair.
“Community Advisors have to deal with residents that are depressed or having difficult with schooling or homesick. How are they going to write up incident reports on their computer when their roommates looking over them?” Student O said.
Student Y believes some people won’t agree with the proposal because they are accustomed to not having a roommate. Living alone is one of the big privileges in holding one of the live-in staff positions.
“I think it is necessary to do if it’s something that the university needs to do, and then people are going to have to deal with it. Within a couple of years of this being implemented, academic resource coordinators and community advisors aren’t going to realize the difference anyways,” Student Y said.
Student M does not see it as a horrible thing, but notes the issue of privacy.
“The biggest issue is having a safe space to talk with someone when we need privacy. Now we are going to have to make our roommate leave when that issue comes,” Student M said.
Shay Spatz, a UWSP student, disagrees withe the proposal because of the work the community advisers have to do on top of being full time college students.
“They do a lot of work maintaining our floors and doing other jobs they have on top of studying. It is kind of nice for them to have their own personal space,” Spatz said.