By: Kevin McDonnell
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – It is that time of the year, yet again, on the NU campus. The intermittent snow showers between classes to blanket the brown grass across campus or the occasional ice storm to add a little extra fun to the morning day commute. Such is the way of life in Western New York and with it, our favorite season is upon us – no not spring – Housing Selection.
In the interest of fairness, Housing Selection is no easy feat to accomplish for students and administrators alike. For students, it can often mean scurrying around to find a roommate or roommates and navigating awkward conversations of who they do and do not want to live with and why. For administrators, Housing Selection represents the ultimate balancing act of weighing student concerns with institutional protocol along with safety to ensure the best possible environment for residents. However, it can also be an exciting time for students as they plan and look forward to the year ahead. For current students looking towards living on campus next year, they might find themselves presented with a lot of new changes.
One of the major changes to housing next year is the introduction of co-ed floors within O’Shea, Seton, Lynch and O’Donoughue along with a significant reduction in housing costs moving into the next semester. For students who may be quick to assume that these changes are out of left field, that is certainly not the case.
“I think it’s important for our students to know that we’re continually examining best practices with regards to residence life, residential education and housing to make sure that we’re current,” said Jason Jakubowski, Dean of Students.
A move towards the implementation of co-ed floors is consistent with universities nationwide and it shows NU is starting to recognize that in its housing policies. For O’Shea and Seton, co-ed will mean that each wing will be single gender, but the entire floor will not – so for those worried about sharing the bathroom with a member of the opposite sex, worry not. As for prospective parents who may thumb through this article, NU will still be retaining single-sex floor offerings to everyone if that choice that fits their needs.
However, the changes in housing are not only the product of creating a more contemporary housing structure. These changes are helping to create what Jakubowski calls “a vibrant campus community,” and this is achieved through retaining students on campus. Chris Sheffield, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, gave some pretty compelling evidence to encourage students to stay on campus. Niagara has ran the numbers and the data bears out that students who remain residents for all four years are 94% more likely to graduate on time, a rate higher than that of commuter students.
“All the literature on retainment and retention focuses on engagement and academic success as the ultimate predictor of graduation, even stronger than incoming SAT scores and high school transcripts,” said Sheffield. In this way, administrators believe the best way to keep students engaged is to keep them on campus and they hope with the new changes that housing occupancy rates will move from 83% this year to 92% occupancy next year.
These changes indicate that Niagara is committed to trying to adapt housing to encourage students to stay, but to also offer them the choices they need. When asked if this was the extent of housing changes students can expect in the coming years Jakubowski said,
“I think this is just the start of things.” As a student here I’m encouraged to see what the university has in store.