Respect and Excellence halls’ student staff not guaranteed floor positions

The hall closures come from the expected enrollment decline of 1,500 students.

Excellence and Discovery Halls of the Virginia Avenue complex on March 30. Respect and Responsibility Halls are not pictured. Excellence and Respect Halls are not currently available for the 2016-2017 school year.

After it was announced Friday that students could not select rooms in Excellence and Respect halls for the 2016–17 school year, Department of Residential Life staff members and incoming freshmen have been left with questions about the sudden closures.

The decision to restrict access temporarily to the two residence halls, two days before ROAR opened and students could begin signing up for housing, comes from the expected decline in enrollment of about 1,500 students for the 2016–17 school year. MU spokesman Christian Basi said the decision was made in an effort to save money. Residential Life announced in March that Laws and Lathrop halls would also be closing.

Following a meeting on Friday with student staff members in Respect, Excellence, Responsibility and Discovery halls to announce the restriction, one incoming student staff member said they were not guaranteed their floor positions.

Basi said that nothing has been finalized yet regarding staffing, but Residential Life is doing everything they can to make sure students keep their jobs.

“Some of the effects we won’t see until they actually happen,” said a ResLife student staff member familiar with the situation. “Since Discovery, Excellence, Responsibility and Respect have always operated as one complex, it will be interesting to see the challenges or what would change now that only half of the complex will be operating.”

Currently the four-building complex shares one practice room, which is located in Excellence and would have to be moved, the staff member said.

Residential Life hired fewer desk attendants this year after eliminating the desk supervisor position, the staff member said. However, they did not hire less floor staff, so now they are telling the new hirees that they may not have jobs in the fall. They could be reassigned to new positions within the department.

Overall, the staff member said the biggest effect of Respect and Excellence closing are a loss of facilities such as kitchens and laundry rooms that are shared between the complex of four buildings

Incoming freshman Luke Olive said he has friends who currently live in Laws, Lathrop, Respect and Excellence, and he would have considered living in one of them. He now plans on living in South.

“Mizzou’s done an outstanding job handling (the events of last fall) and keeping people informed and making changes,” Olive said. “I expect Mizzou to be right back where they left off in like one to two years.”

Basi previously told The Maneater that MU had anticipated the enrollment decline due to smaller high school class sizes, but last semester’s events also had an impact. Interim Chancellor Hank Foley estimated that last fall’s events caused a decline of at least 600 students.

Basi said it is more cost-effective to close some halls and have maximum occupancy in the ones that are open rather than keeping all of the halls open but having many vacancies. On-campus housing priority is given to first-time college students, but transfer students and upperclassmen are also being offered on-campus housing due to a smaller than usual projected incoming freshman class, according to the ResLife website.

“That’s one of the reasons why we are restricting access, because we’re wanting to make sure we’re being good stewards of the money that the students will be giving us to live in the residential halls,” Basi said.

Excellence and Respect were chosen because they have some maintenance issues, such as leaky shower floors, Basi said.

“It’s not a safety issue; it’s not a big problem, but to go in and fix it, it’s invasive,” Basi said. “If we don’t need to use those halls, we could go in those halls and do those repairs.”

He said the maintenance is a possibility within the next year if the halls are closed, but nothing has been officially planned or announced.

Edited by Taylor Blatchford | tblatchford@themaneater.com

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