Department of Residential Life targets current students in residence hall advertisements

Because of a decline in freshman enrollment, ResLife is encouraging older students to return to residence halls.

“Financial aid coming in late? Payments to MU can wait. A landlord won’t!” a sign inside residence halls reads, encouraging students to return to residence halls instead of turning to Columbia’s off-campus housing options.

This advertisement was one of many that adorned MU’s 23 residence halls late this spring. This was part of an increased effort by the Department of Residential Life to encourage more current students to live in residence halls in light of a projected decline in enrollment for fall 2016 with 1,400 fewer freshmen.

Fliers and stickers line the corridors and floors of each residence hall claiming that they, complete with meal plans and proximity to classes, are a worthy alternative to off-campus student housing.

Accompanying these fliers and stickers are advertisements that can be found on various screens in the Student Center, Student Recreation Complex and other common buildings on campus. Additionally, the MU Residential Life Facebook page has posted a video advertising the same information. Emails have also been sent to students and parents encouraging them return to residence halls next year, according to Director of Residential Life Frankie Minor.

The advertisements attempt to address with some of students’ biggest obstacles when searching for off-campus housing.

The total cost of these advertisements, which is taken from the Residential Life’s marketing budget, is approximately $1,500 according to Minor. This money is used to produce the floor graphics seen throughout the residence halls, which Minor said has been done before, just not in the past few years. However, electronic signs and screens across campus as well as email access has allowed for much more cost-free forms of advertisement.

Minor said that Residential Life has advertised to current students in the past, but with the decline in enrollment, Residential Life’s desire to house older students has increased.

One benefit of having upperclassmen living in the residence halls is that they can serve as “community elders” to freshmen, Minor said, especially when student staff members are not available.

In past years, MU has generally seen an increase in freshman enrollment, according to previous Maneater reporting. Because of the increase in freshmen in the past, Residential Life had not typically been able to house as many upperclassmen. Nonfreshmen were not discouraged to apply for on-campus housing, but they were not a target audience for advertisements, Minor said.

In 2012, Minor told The Maneater that current students who wished to return to residence halls outnumbered the number of rooms that were available, and because of housing space at the time, space for freshmen was limited. Residential Life had to implement a cap on the number of available housing contracts.

Minor said MU residence halls used to house approximately 1/3 upperclassmen and 2/3 freshmen. Residential Life wants this ratio, or one close to it, to return.

Edited by Claire Mitzel | cmitzel@themaneater.com

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