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Published: 12/6/2001

UT heeds students, delays housing plan

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Intense negative student reaction to a University of Toledo plan to alter its housing policy has caused university officials to defer any changes for at least a year.

The procedure, announced last week, would have given incoming students priority in selecting on-campus housing, rather than reserving first choice for returning students.

Most students who lived more than two semesters on campus would have been forced off campus.

The change was an attempt to deal with a housing crunch that led the university to secure nearby apartments for 800 students this year. A residence hall with 600 beds opening next year is not expected to solve the problem.

Wayne Gates, UT director of residence life, said he expected some negative reaction to the proposed change, but the volume and intensity with which students responded caused a change in plan.

“It was decided to defer the implementation of the new procedure for at least a year, which would give some time to look at different ways of balancing the needs of incoming students and returning students,” he said.

Letters were posted in residence halls yesterday informing students of the decision.

Benjamin Leienberger, president of the Resident Student Association, was pleased to hear that the policy will not be implemented immediately.

He said he is troubled, however, by the process originally used to develop and announce it. Any change should have been phased in over time, he said.

“Instead of asking us to move and instead of doing it over time, they just flat out did it,” he said. “They didn't take the concern of the students until the students started going after them.”

A third-year student living in White Hall, Mr. Leienberger said he intends to live on campus again next year.

The association held a meeting last night on the issue in the Horton International House that was attended by about 40 students.

Kristi Rice said she can understand why the university wanted to reserve more space on campus for new students. Living off campus her first year was a miserable experience.

“I was here, but I felt like an outsider looking in,” she said.

She enjoys living on campus now in MacKinnon Hall and supported phasing in a new procedure.

Travis Irvan, a sophomore living in White, suggested UT find another way to deal with its housing crunch.

“Why should I have to suffer because the university can't supply [freshmen] with dorms?”



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