Riverview Dorms Dent UWM's Housing Shortage

The shortage of UWM’s student housing creates a need, and pressure, to build more dorms.

The shortage of UWM’s student housing creates a need, and pressure, to build more dorms.

Each year, thousands of incoming freshmen and transfer students apply to live in one of UWM's four dormitories: Sandburg Hall, Purin Hall, Riverview Residence Hall, and Kenilworth Square. In the beginning of this 2008 fall semester, the waiting list for the Sandburg, Riverview, and Purin dorms totaled over ten thousand students. Students who don't make it into a dorm are forced to live off campus and commute to school.

Freshman, Megan Leischer, was on one of those students.

“The waiting list was like one thousand, or something. I couldn't just wait and see if I would get in,” said Leischer.

Because of the limited campus housing, freshmen at UWM aren't required to spend their first year in the dorms like at other universities.

UWM can accommodate three thousand six hundred and forty five students between the four dormitories. This accounts for 12.5 percent of the twenty nine thousand students that are enrolled.

UW Madison can house six thousand nine hundred and seventy six students, providing 16 percent of it's nearly forty two thousand students with on campus housing

Marquette University, with 61 percent of it's students coming from out of state, can house three thousand three hundred and forty nine of their eleven thousand six hundred students, accounting for 28 percent of their student body.

The Riverview Residence Hall that opened in January 2008 made room for four hundred and seventy five more students, most of whom were freshmen.

Assistant Director of University Housing, Stephanie Warner, says they'll have to wait before they'll see the effects of the new dorm.

“It's difficult at this point to see an impact. I think we're going to need a couple years before we see a trend,” says Warner.

With parking hassles and gas expenses, there may seem like more cons to commuting, but UWM senior, Kari Davidson, prefers living off campus, even with an hour and twenty minute commute.

“Living off campus makes you more focused on your studies. You know you only have that small window of time to go to the library and get your project done before the bus comes, so you do it. And I also get a lot of homework done on the bus,” says Davidson.

With the first month of winter bringing heaps of snow, the chilly months may have commuters wishing they'd lived closer to campus.

Students coming from their snowy one or two block walk from class flood into Sandburg's main lobby and climb up to their dorm rooms in light jackets, down vests, and hooded sweatshirts. Blocks away students trudge South down Maryland through the snow and against the wind back to their houses or apartments in heavy duty winter coats and clunky snow boots.

Further inside Sandburg, young coeds walk around in sweats and slippers carrying laundry baskets or grabbing some food from the Emporium. These tasks would have off campus students reaching for those bulky boots.

West tower resident, Kaylne Link, was one of the lucky freshmen to nab a spot in Sandburg.

“I like the dorms. Everything is, like, right there when I need it. It's easy to get to class and the library” explained Link.

Living in the dorms also has other benefits.

“Studies have shown that students who live in college dorms have a higher GPA,” says Warner. “So, of course, we encourage students to live on campus.”

UWM has plans to build more dorms so that more students have the opportunity to live on or near campus.

Construction on new dorms will begin this spring, weather providing, at the “Hometown” site across the river from Riverside. For years now, UWM has had their eye on the Columbia of St. Mary's property on Maryland and Hartford so there will be possibilities for more expansion in the future.

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