The Student Voice of MU Since 1955
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Residential Life considers University Village renovation

Major renovations to University Village would increase rent.

The Department of Residential Life is searching for a viable alternative to aging graduate student housing, as are many other universities.

"The bad point is that they are tiny," graduate student Marilyn Preston said. "I lived in a two-bedroom 420-square foot apartment in University Village."

Preston is a single mother of two young children, who wrote her master's thesis about student-parents.

"The bedrooms stem off of each other and trying to study is difficult when your kid's room is basically a part of your room," Preston said. "Also, the kitchens are terrible. There is no way to cook a meal for a family with a half stove, a small fridge and one or two cabinets."

Although there have been some complaints about the quality of living in university apartments, major changes do not appear to be happening soon.

"The challenge with University Village is that it was built in the late '50s and was probably designed to last only 25 to 30 years," Director of Residential Life Frankie Minor said. "We have been trying to develop an effective master plan for our apartments. Many other universities are facing this same problem with renovating or upgrading housing that was built after World War II for returning veterans."

Another issue Minor mentioned is the cost renovations would have for the students who live there. If the renovations were to happen, rents would have to dramatically increase. In one possible financial scenario, the cost of rent for a two-bedroom apartment would more than double to approximately $1,300 a month. This is especially an issue for students who do not receive financial help.

"The University Village apartments are old and not centrally air-conditioned," Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs said. "The rent is very reasonable so students with families choose to live there for convenience and cost."

The university also attempts to promote a feeling of community within the university apartments for those students with children.

"We've had Easter egg hunts and trick or treating," Minor said. "We try to organize activities for families and we try to spread the word whenever these activities are happening. We would love to build some kind of community center but there is no funding for it right now."

These attempts at creating a community do not go unnoticed by residents of the complexes like University Village.

"They have really nice playgrounds for the kids, and they do a decent job of maintaining it like removing the snow during the winter," Preston said. "I also know that they have some community stuff like a newsletter and trick-or-treating, and I think that they tried to foster a sense of community."

There have been rumors that the University Village Apartments will be closed for renovations during the next five to 10 years. Both Scroggs and Minor said the increase in rent that a major renovation would cause is not the best option, and neither said the rumor was certain.

The rumor has raised concern among the graduate community because the university child care is located within University Village. Nick Gage of Mizzou Families Involved Together said long-term child care and a space for student parents are still at the top of their priorities.

"I would recommend university apartments as a starting place but I don't think it's viable as a long term study option," Preston said. "I rent a house in town now, and I pay less than I paid when I lived in the apartment."

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