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UW-W students move on campus in record numbers

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Kevin Hoffman
August 31, 2010
— Freshman Alex Dankert slowly organized his room Monday, using three fans to circulate the 90-degree heat throughout his three-person dorm.

“It’s not that bad,” he said, referring to the chaos three floors below his Bigelow Hall flat as thousands of UW-Whitewater students paraded throughout campus.


Monday was move-in day for all students living in dormitories. While the annual event typically creates a logjam of traffic along streets and sidewalks, this year had the potential to be much worse.


UW-Whitewater was forced to get creative to make way for 4,100 students—400 more than its preferred capacity. The university not only postponed renovations to Wellers Hall until late next year but also fitted students into rooms normally used as study lounges.


Dankert is among the newcomers sharing a lounge with two other students. He received notification in July and has no complaints.


“It’s nice. We probably got more room than the normal rooms do,” he said.


The number of people choosing university housing is somewhat surprising because more than half of them are returning students or upperclassmen, many of whom could live off campus.


Traffic flowed smoothly along Starin Road on Monday afternoon, and parents said they had few if any problems navigating campus.


“I don’t know what to compare it to, but it was fine,” said Phil Friedl, whose daughter is an incoming freshman. “There was a lot of help. It was very well organized.”


UW-Whitewater officials don’t know what caused the sudden influx of students staying on campus, but they’re making due.


It’s likely that not all students enrolled this week will be there in May. Chancellor Richard Telfer said financial difficulties, health and poor grades contribute to some dropping out.


Residence Life Director Frank Bartlett said adjustments could be made mid-year if space comes available, but officials likely will re-evaluate next summer.


“It’s a good thing for the campus, but it’s difficult,” he said. “With the new residence hall opening up and the overall economy, I imagine parents crunching numbers took a look at what would be the most fiscally responsible decision.”


Nearly 28 percent more upperclassmen and returning students chose to live on campus this year than last. Part of the reason is Starin Hall, UW-Whitewater’s brand new suite-style dormitory that appears more like a hotel than student housing.


A suite has four bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and a bathroom. Occupants don’t even need an oscillating fan to beat the heat because each room has central air conditioning.


“It’s worth every penny,” junior Matt Kempen said. “It’s kind of like living at home.”


Kempen is eligible to live off campus but said staying in the new suite helps keep him grounded. Starin Hall is close to all academic buildings and next door to the university’s $41.5 million College of Business and Economics, opened last year.


“You have to remember school is still the most important thing,” Kempen said. “You’re paying pretty good to live here, and it’s definitely worth it.”


Bartlett said Wellers Hall will undergo its renovation in December 2011, which includes the bathrooms, common areas and the addition of an elevator. University officials haven’t discussed additional dormitories yet, but he said if the on-campus demand continues to climb, it could be an option.



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