Oct. 10-23, 2003
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Digest — U.Va. News Daily

Headlines @ U.Va.
‘In the Presence’ offers new look at Civil War
Music graduate students reach out to peers
16th annual Virginia Film Festival will show you the Money
Board opens housing discussion
New health plan offers options
Faculty Actions from the October BOV meeting
U.Va. endowment performance second in nation
Werhane to receive Women’s Center Zintl Award
Board approves moving Varsity Hall
International scholars to discuss religion, justice and violence
Civil Rights leader Dorothy Height to Speak Oct. 10
From reading to painting, volunteers reach out during Day of Caring

Board opens housing discussion

By Dan Heuchert

The 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 contractor’s mistake more than three decades ago.

During 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 University’s chief housing officer, recently.

Some effects, such as flaking paint on ceilings, have come to light, but there is no danger to students, Doherty stressed.

But 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 University’s projected enrollment growth, provides an opportunity to discuss overall future housing goals.

As 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 construction.
The housing discussion goes well beyond bodies and beds.

“It’s 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 life.

Reynolds 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 resources.

The 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.

Shortly 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.

“This 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.

Uncertainty about obtaining University housing compounds that pressure. Although 90 percent of undergraduate applicants for upper-class housing last year were accommodated, many students don’t want to wait that long.

As a first step, Casteen said he would like to speed up the University Housing application process, which begins in November but isn’t finalized until February.


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