The Daily Gamecock

Roost, South Tower residence halls to go coed

University Housing aims to move more freshmen closer to campus

The Roost and South Tower will be coed residence halls starting Fall 2012.

The Housing master plan says first-year students will not be housed in locations like the Roost, according to the Director of Housing Administration Joe Fortune.

According to Fortune, most of the students who live in the Roost next fall will be transfer students.

“One of the long-term goals for Housing is to house most, if not all, incoming freshmen closer to campus,” Fortune said.

Another move to reach this goal is converting South Tower, currently an all-female residence hall, to a coed dorm.

Since many first-year males are scattered around campus and occasionally farther away, the South Tower conversion will be beneficial in accommodating more males closer to the main campus, according to Director of Residence Life Andy Fink.

Fortune explained the hierarchy for housing preference is reserved first for returning students, followed by first-years and then transfer students.

University Housing provides about 6,600 beds on campus and 4,500 of those are reserved for incoming freshmen. The remaining 2,100 go to returning upperclassmen and transfer students.

The Roost, currently a freshman all-male residence hall, is often the last choice among students because of its distance from the center of campus, Fortune said.

In Fall 2011, Housing received 88 room or building change requests, and about 50 percent of those were fulfilled. Fortune said over the past couple of years, this number is about average based on student population. Fulfillments are made based on the housing available for students’ specific requests, such as the style or number of bedrooms in the residence hall.

“The majority of students are looking for privacy, and so we see a high demand for the apartments with the private bedrooms, so you’re talking East Quad, South Quad, West (Green) Quad, the Horseshoe apartments,” Fortune said. “That’s usually for returners, the upperclass group, but … new freshmen tend to lean more toward the suite-style.”

According to Fortune, the No. 1 reason for room or building change requests is roommate preferences, either because students wish to live with friends or because problems arise with current roommates. He said building preference is the second most common reason for requests, citing out-of-state students needing to live in a residence hall that is open during all breaks as an example.

Fortune says there is a relatively low room change request for returning students living on campus because they receive the first priority in selecting their preferred housing and roommates.

This spring, Housing has received 213 requests so far. Fortune contributes this higher number, compared to the 88 fall requests, to students making new friends during their first semester and wanting to live together when they return in January.

Nick Miletich, a first-year criminal justice student, lived in the Roost at the beginning of this semester before requesting to live in Columbia Hall due to roommate issues and his long trek to campus.

“I specifically requested Columbia Hall because I knew it was coed, where the Roost is all guys,” Miletich said. “And the distance between my classes was kind of rough, too, because it was about a 20-minute walk to my classes sometimes. I wanted to be more on campus.”

A little more than a week after Miletich filed his request, he received a call informing him that a room was available for him in Columbia Hall.

“They were very nice, very understanding,” Miletich said. “I thought I wasn’t going to get it because I said it was a long walk. I thought they were just going to tell me to suck it up.”

Miletich added that he was also surprised at how quick the process was.

According to Fink, some students seek a specific type of experience, such as a living and learning community once they have decided a field of study.

There has been research showing benefits for those students living in associated learning communities at USC, including higher retention rate and better performances in the classroom, Fink said. He added that residence halls are more than buildings in which students eat and sleep — they are a part of the academy and it is important for students to feel connected.

Fortune said he receives the least number of requests for housing change from buildings with an associated learning community or an academic focus, such as the Honors College within the Honors Residence Hall and Capstone Scholars in Capstone House.

There are no criteria for students to request a room or a building change, according to Fortune.

“The only thing that we keep in mind when we’re trying to do changes for some of the themed housing or associated learning communities is if you have to be approved for these communities — for example, the Preston Residential College,” Fortune said. “We try not to just change someone in there without them going through the process to be approved … unless it’s just a special circumstance. I can’t think of a time where we have said, ‘No, you can’t live here,’ unless it’s one of those special places, and even then we advise the students (on how to be approved).”

Fortune said the Roost has the potential of functioning as something other than housing, but did not give details about the building would eventually be torn down in the Housing master plan.