Lower enrollment affects housing

By Jennifer McCabe

The 1993-1994 school year has begun and the housing department has had its hands full with new students.

The dormitories are not completely full, according to Jack Felver, Assistant Director of Housing services, but “this is not a surprise, the trend has been going down and enrollment is supposed to be low for the next two years,” Felver said, “All of the state schools are in the same boat in Illinois and around the country.”

Because of the low enrollment, there hasn’t been any need to house students in temporary spaces in the Holmes Student Center, as there has been in the past.

However, the low enrollment has not affected the number of transfer students entering NIU. “The number did not decrease, all of the transfer floors are filled, and even some of the students had to be given their second preference for housing,” Felver said.

The trend also has been leading the older students back to the dorms, Felver said. There are older transfer students and seniors coming back to live on campus when they realize it is more expensive off campus, according to Felver.

There are no new special interest floors but the most popular ones have been expanded to accommodate the needs of the students.

There has been a huge demand for more 21 and over floors, according to Felver. “We could only add one more floor, but we really could have used another one,” he said.

University Health Service, which was located in the Holmes Student Center, Neptune, and downtown DeKalb has moved back to its original building, and the space used in Neptune was turned into another law floor, which also was in demand.

More co-ed floors and alcohol-free floors were created to accommodate the demand for them as well. When these floors are created, housing is forced to cut back on other less popular floors and men and women’s floors, Felver said.

The biggest addition to the residence halls is the completion of the suites in Lincoln Hall. The floors went under construction this summer.

“We are anticipating the students to move in this week,” said Linda Tillis, Associate Director of Housing.

The fourth and fifth floors of the A wing were completely renovated and carpeted to accommodate 32 students. There now are two rooms that are attached by a completely furnished living room. The room will have a couch, floor lamps, end tables, built-in shelves and an extra phone for local calls. The bedrooms will have two lofts, two desks, two chests and closets, according to Tillis.

“The whole idea of this project was to update the look and to get more returning students in the dorms, not because of the decline in enrollment. I wish we could work that fast, but the idea started about four years ago when we had a furniture fair,” Tillis said.

The students will pay $1950 a semester, compared to the current $1543 for a room in Lincoln Hall. She also hopes to get more floors for suites in the future.

The complete renovation of the elevators which began this summer in Stevenson and Grant towers is almost finished. The elevator maintenance crew has to make some simple adjustments before completion, according to Tillis.

The elevators in the towers are still on the 24-hour key system. “People feel much safer about security with this system,” she said.

For the past seven years, NIU has been updating the fire alarm system in the dorms. The system wires all of the fire alarms to a computer system which is hooked up to the police and fire departments.

Grant South’s upgrade was completed this summer. “Every time the alarm company comes to finish another building, they come up with little improvements that are really great,” Tillis said.

Grant South’s alarm system includes flashing lights to alert the hearing impaired students who live there.

Neptune is the only building that has not had the upgrade and it will have the new system in two years.