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  April 5, 2004

Students Drawn To High-Quality Housing

More than 7,000 students have completed perhaps the University's most hectic room draw in history, as staff of the Department of Residential Life wrestled with the problem that too many students wanted on-campus housing.

Ultimately, about 11,300 students will receive room assignments for the fall 2004 semester - 75 percent of the undergraduate population, but still 432 fewer than the number of students who wanted a room. Typically, the nation's major public universities house no more than 25-30 percent of their undergraduates, said Sam Miller, assistant vice president for student affairs, and only freshman can look forward to an on-campus residential experience with any certainty.

Miller says the huge turnout in Storrs occurred primarily because UConn's housing stock is now so good that fewer students than ever are electing to move to off-campus housing.

"It's unfortunate we were forced to employ a lottery system," said Miller, referring to the computer-generated lottery that determined which 1,000 among the 1,432 students who have lived on campus for at least six semesters and applied for on-campus housing would be offered on-campus accommodation. "But it's a direct result of the high-quality on-campus experience we offer, which includes the residence halls, the variety of dining areas, and student activities."

Miller said about 450 rooms would be converted to triples to accommodate as many students as possible. Most of the triples would be in the Charter Oak and Hilltop suites, rooms that are relatively large and have their own bathrooms. Other students will be able to choose quads that are converted lounges, which also are larger than normal rooms.

Miller says he expects that a number of the 432 students on the housing waiting list will eventually receive rooms, when students who have been offered on-campus housing withdraw their applications, a process he says occurs every summer.

The University has hosted several off-campus housing fairs, and residential life staff have worked hard to locate off-campus landlords and either bring them to campus or distribute contact information regarding those properties, to assist students who can not be accommodated on campus.

During the past three years, about 2,700 beds have been added in Storrs. About 1,400 of them are in the Hilltop and Charter Oak Apartment communities, which feature two- and four-bedroom apartments complete with full kitchens, air conditioning, and washer/dryers. At the same time, the Hilltop and Charter Oak Suites opened, which offer more than 900 beds arranged in suites, with two-bedroom units connected by private bathrooms.

In 1998, the new South Campus opened with 674 beds, arranged in four-person suites that offer not only a private bathroom but living rooms as well. And the more than 1,000-bed Northwest Residential Complex was renovated, with new lighting, paint, floor and ceiling tiles, and elevators.

Additionally, new dining areas - set up in food court style - opened at South Campus, Northwest, and adjacent to the Towers residence halls. The latter dining hall also offers the University's first Kosher kitchen.

Miller says "everything is better" than before the UConn 2000 program began. In addition, most rooms on campus is wired for the Internet, cable television, and telephone service. "Combined with the reasonable cost," he says, "it's not surprising students want to stay here. It's a great value."