Department of Residence (DOR) has announced a number of changes and enhancements to campus living effective beginning in the fall 2020 semester.
One adjustment that students may have already noticed is that the recontracting process has been moved from November to February. Same-room reservation opens on Feb. 3, with same-space roommate selection on Feb. 6 and priority reservation dates beginning Feb. 10. This poses a big change for students planning to live on campus, but according to DOR assistant director of marketing Annie Karr, it is a positive one.
“We found that students, particularly first-year students, were not ready to make their choice in the fall semester on where to live for the following year. By waiting until spring to start the recontracting process, it allows new students time in the fall to get adjusted to college and focus on their academics and get a better feel for where they might want to live the following year,” she said.
In fact, holding recontracting in the spring has proven to be more successful.
“By going back and taking a look at recontracting stats over the past 5-10 years, the spring had shown to be a better time for recontracting,” said Karr.
Sebastian Price, a first-year student who plans to recontract, said the changes were helpful for his decision-making process.
“It didn’t affect my plans, but it did give me more time to plan out where I was going to live and who I was going to live with, so that was helpful,” Price said.
The residence halls themselves will also see a few changes. The DOR will be adding a “mixed community” option , combining first-year and upper-class students. The DOR has successfully used this model in the past and hope to see those same benefits play out.
“There will be a combination of mixed communities, first-year experience communities and returner communities,” said Nick Rafenello, director of residence life. “This will allow students more freedom to choose whom they wish to live with and around.”
Another notable update is the reopening of Dancer Hall, which has been closed for the 2019-2020 school year. Dancer will reopen in fall 2020 with design updates such as new carpeting, paint, lighting and furniture in shared spaces, as well as room upgrades. All double rooms have been converted to super single rooms, and bathrooms have been remodeled to include private showers and one accessible bathroom per floor.
Students may also notice changes to dining in the fall, such as continuous dining hours which will remove the 15-minute transitions between meal times. Piazza and Rialto will be open continuously from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
This is a change that Price is especially excited for.
“I’m hungry at all hours of the day. It’s also easier to plan on eating with friends that way,” he said.
Dining services will also offer a new meal plan for students in non-traditional residence halls. Janet Despard, director of dining services, said the new “all-access weekday meal plan” will allow unlimited access to the dining centers Monday through Friday and is optional for students living in apartment-style halls or off-campus. Students can also expect to see more variety during late meal periods and will be able to enjoy a fountain drink or coffee to-go from the dining halls.
One change that students will not see to the DOR is a change in pricing. According to Karr, housing and dining rates will not increase in the 2020-2021 academic year, pending Board of Regents approval. Additionally, all students currently living in the residence halls who recontract for the upcoming academic year will be eligible for a $1000 on-campus housing scholarship.
The DOR hopes that all of these updates to campus living will enhance the student experience and contribute to student success while at UNI.
“The DOR will continue to provide a student-centered program across its operation,” Karr said. “From dining to facilities and custodial services to residence life, we are committed to providing an engaging experience supporting and benefiting students in their academic, personal and career goals, achievements and aspirations.”