Oklahoma universities face on-campus housing shortage

Saturday, February 19th 2005, 10:58 am
By: News On 6

Officials at Oklahoma's three largest state universities say meeting demand for on-campus housing this fall may pose a challenge.

University of Oklahoma President David Boren has directed the campus housing office to find additional bed space for students while one wing of a high-rise residence hall is being renovated.

At Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, officials said there is a shortage of about 500 rooms because of the December closing of Willham Hall, which has been demolished to make room for other housing.

At the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, officials hope they won't have to turn down requests for on-campus housing, as they did last fall.

In Norman, OU is losing the use of 250 to 300 beds during the fall renovation of one wing of Couch Center, said Michael Heaton, assistant to OU's director of housing.

Earlier this month, OU announced that dorm space would be reserved for freshmen in the fall, Heaton said.

After the student newspaper reported a protest by honors dorm students, Boren issued a revised policy last week.

``It has come to my attention that we did not give students adequate notice about changes in housing for next year,'' Boren said. ``In the interest of fairness ... I have asked Housing and Food Services to make additional residence hall rooms available to non-freshmen for 2005-2006.''

Rooms for nonfreshmen will be available in three Cate Center buildings, and the honors dorm students may reapply for a room next year, OU officials said.

A new housing option will be Traditions Square, an apartment complex under construction on the south end of campus. The complex, which is to open in the fall, is expected to have room for 576 students.

Heaton does not anticipate running out of rooms for freshmen, who are required to live on campus unless they get an exemption.

In Stillwater, OSU has a shortage of about 500 rooms because of Willham Hall's closing and demolition, said Shannon Baughman, marketing coordinator for the Residential Life office.

Construction of six suite-style buildings is expected to be complete in August 2006, she said.

``We guarantee housing for freshman,'' Baughman said.

At UCO, officials won't know if they will have to turn away applicants for on-campus housing this fall until they see the demand, university spokesman Charles Johnson said.

Rising enrollment has placed demands on campus housing, he said.

UCO plans to convert a former Ramada Inn across from campus into student housing. Johnson said the leased building is expected to add 298 beds to UCO's housing supply.