Fast Forward Syracuse

Concrete timeline lacking for housing changes proposed in Campus Framework draft

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The Campus Framework draft features proposed changes to undergraduate student housing, but as of now, no timeline is set and there are no concrete plans regarding the changes.

Proposed changes include relocating South Campus housing — which accounts for approximately one-third of all on-campus student housing — to Main Campus and constructing room for an additional 900 beds on campus. That means the addition of about 3,600 beds to Main Campus, according to the June 2016 Campus Framework Draft Overview. The draft also includes plans to add on to Haven and Booth halls, to make changes to West Campus housing and to build housing on Ostrom Avenue.

There is no timeline set for changes in housing and no building locations have been determined, said Pete Sala, vice president and chief campus facilities officer, in an email. The Campus Framework is in draft form as a “living, breathing document” and feedback is being gathered in regards to the next steps of the process, Sala said.

“The Campus Framework does not prescribe how many buildings should be constructed,” Sala said. “It instead guides what locations are best suited to student housing areas should the University move forward with adding housing on Main campus.”

“We have some of our students living in lounges. It’s been going on for several years. Basically, the lounges are converted to rooms.
Terra Peckskamp, director of the Office of Residence Life

The motivation behind the proposed housing changes stems from student feedback. In 2014, thousands of students took the MyCampus survey and their responses indicated that their experience at SU could be enhanced by increasing the amount of student housing on and around Main Campus, Sala said.

The framework draft states that students who live in on-campus housing are typically more engaged in campus social life, do better academically and are more satisfied with their overall university experience.

Other issues with the current housing situation that concern students are transportation and space, said Terra Peckskamp, director of the Office of Residence Life.

Peckskamp said space is cramped for the first-year students, particularly in exclusively first-year residence halls, such as Day and Flint halls and the Brewster/Boland/Brockway Complex.

“We have some of our students living in lounges,” she said. “It’s been going on for several years. Basically, the lounges are converted to rooms.”

Peckskamp is not currently involved with the decision-making process regarding housing since The Arch and the National Veterans Resource Complex are Campus Framework projects currently in focus. She said she anticipates she will be involved in the future.

campus-framework-map
Emma Comtois | Design Editor

Over time, SU will relocate South Campus student housing to Main Campus, according to the Campus Framework. But Sala said South Campus will continue to play a major role in the university’s housing strategy.

“There is no plan to move all housing to main campus,” Sala said. “We hope to add housing to main campus but we will continue to house students on South Campus too.”

Existing operations on South Campus, including athletics, recreation services, academic research and administration services will remain, along with housing options, Sala said.

The Campus Framework draft mentions plans to build consolidated athletics and recreation complexes on South Campus.

Currently, housing on South Campus is apartment-style and Main Campus housing features residence hall-style rooms. Sala said it is too early to determine what style the proposed housing will be.

“Future student housing options may be a modern blend of residence halls, townhouses or apartment-style houses,” he said.

Peckskamp said she thinks there will be a variety of housing options.

“I do know one of the things that, institutionally, we are committed to is providing a variety of housing options for students that meet their needs,” she said. “And, so, I would certainly say that apartment-style housing is an interest for students and would meet a need.”

As part of additional plans to enrich student life, the Campus Framework draft lists renovations to the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center for student housing. SU announced on Tuesday that the Sheraton will no longer be offered through Syracuse University Housing. Sala, though, said there are currently no plans to convert the Sheraton to student housing.

“Future student housing options may be a modern blend of residence halls, townhouses or apartment-style houses.
Pete Sala, vice president and chief campus facilities officer

“Before any decisions are made, Syracuse University will first ensure that extensive hotel capacity on the SU Hill is available to the serve the thousands of out-of-town visitors to campus, our city and the Dome each year,” he said.

Sala said the addition of undergraduate housing to Main Campus supports three goals of the Campus Framework: academic excellence, enriching all aspects of student life and creating a vibrant campus setting. He said it will re-center students and residential life around the “academic heart of the University.”

The Campus Framework draft states that mixed neighborhoods will be established on Main Campus to include a combination of residential and student life amenities.

“Individual neighborhoods will exhibit unique identities, but will all be connected to the campus core,” according to the draft.

The draft states that distinct identities of the neighborhoods may be based on international identity, supported by the Slutzker Center for International Services, study abroad and the increasing enrollment of international students, among other themes.

Sala said the Campus Framework will continue to work in coordination with the Academic Strategic plan to “shape, guide, and manage the campus environment and its physical form in support of the University’s mission.”

As time advances, Peckskamp anticipates any changes in housing will be transparent.

“I fully expect that, as we move closer, if and when that is, there will be full campus conversations for all members of the campus community about what the future of our housing is and our residential experience,” she said. “That would include students and faculty in addition to staff from residence life and housing and other areas of the institution.”

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