Board opens housing discussion
By Dan Heuchert
Board of Visitors
Student Affairs and Athletics Committee on Oct. 2 opened what
chairman Thomas F. Farrell II expects to be a months-long discussion
of student housing a discussion prompted largely by a contractors
mistake more than three decades ago.
construction of Alderman Road first-year residence halls in the
late 1960s and 70s, many concrete pours done in cold weather
contained chloride, which kept the mix from freezing but in the
long term added an element corrosive to metal, said Mark Doherty,
the Universitys chief housing officer, recently.
effects, such as flaking paint on ceilings, have come to light,
but there is no danger to students, Doherty stressed.
the need to extensively renovate or replace 11 residence halls,
representing about 1,400 beds more than 20 percent of U.Va.s
overall housing plus the Universitys projected enrollment
growth, provides an opportunity to discuss overall future housing
an auxiliary enterprise, University Housing receives no state
funds, and generally must finance any capital projects through
reserves and revenue bonds, Yoke San Reynolds, vice president
for finance, told board members last week. Using financial and
enrollment projections, the University will be able to afford
renovating between 1,700 and 2,000 beds or constructing between
850 and 1,000 new ones, or some combination of renovation and
The housing discussion goes well beyond bodies and beds.
not simply a matter of what sites look best and how we want to
configure the rooms, University President
John T. Casteen III said. He stressed the need to examine studies
of housing practices here and elsewhere and how they affect student
outlined several factors affecting student housing decisions,
including enrollment; University housing rules; the off-Grounds
housing market, which Casteen described as having a large surplus;
academic and social programming; customer and stakeholder preferences;
the condition of current facilities; and the available financial
University requires first-year students to live on Grounds. After
that, students must decide whether to apply for University housing
or live off Grounds.
On-Grounds housing offers proximity, security, academic and social
programming, shorter leases and lower prices, Reynolds said. Residents
have less privacy, however, and more rules to follow.
after the school year begins, local landlords begin to press students
to sign leases for the next academic year, Casteen told board
members, creating a panic among students that they will be left
out in the cold.
year, in particular, a lot of people signed leases on places that
were simply blueprints, he said. At least two local apartment
complexes were not completed by the opening of the academic year.
about obtaining University housing compounds that pressure. Although
90 percent of undergraduate applicants for upper-class housing
last year were accommodated, many students dont want to
wait that long.
a first step, Casteen said he would like to speed up the University
Housing application process, which begins in November but isnt
finalized until February.