Chancellor’s Roundtable: Addressing on-campus housing

Chancellor James C. Schmidt and Housing and Residence Life Director Quincy Chapman answer student questions about housing


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

Chancellor James C. Schmidt and Housing and Residence Life Director Quincy Chapman answered student questions about housing for the 2018-19 academic year at the Chancellor’s Roundtable on Wednesday.

Next year’s on-campus housing changes are the result of state-level budget delay and aging residence halls, Chancellor James C. Schmidt said at the Chancellor’s Roundtable on Wednesday.

“State bureaucracy got in our way,” Schmidt said. “So we’re not in a perfect situation.”

With the renovation of Karlgaard Towers South underway and Karlgaard Towers North to begin next year, UW-Eau Claire Housing and Residence Life decided only first-year students will be allowed to live in traditional on-campus housing for the 2018-19 academic year.

However, all students who apply and pay a deposit are guaranteed university housing, according to the Housing and Residence Life website.

The university still plans to partner with area hotels like the Clarion for the 2018-19 academic year. Hotel rooms are the same cost as traditional on-campus residence halls.

The higher-priced off-campus housing options — Priory Hall, Aspen-Mogenson Hall, Chancellors Hall and Haymarket Landing — are still options for returning students.

Schmidt, aided by Quincy Chapman, the director of UW-Eau Claire Housing and Residence Life, explained the reason for the housing change.

In his presentation, Chapman said Housing and Residence Life’s original idea was to build a new residence hall on upper campus to replace the bed space that would be temporarily lost during the Karlgaard Towers Hall’s renovations; however, the legislation necessary for the renovation and construction of the dorms stagnated longer than expected at the state-level.

During this period, Chapman said Karlgaard Towers Halls faced “catastrophic failure,” becoming so run-down that closure was necessary before the new residence hall’s construction even began.

“We risked pushing 650 or 750 students out into the community,” Schmidt said regarding the risk the university ran keeping Karlgaard Towers in use. “Imagine that happening in February.”

Schmidt said he knows students are concerned with university housing for the upcoming year.

“There’s a pinch point, and there’s going to be a lot of pain around it,” Schmidt said. “We could have done a better job with communication.”

Hannah Woods, a fifth-year elementary and special education student, voiced her concerns about the cost difference between traditional and new housing options for students that still desire to live in university-owned housing.

Schmidt said cost of living in Haymarket Landing and Aspen-Mogenson Hall is greater because they’re newer, they are not tax-exempt and the university is not able to find a suitable lease for the buildings.

For example, about $1,500 of a Haymarket resident’s fees go toward “taxes and finance costs and don’t add any value,” Schmidt said, adding he aims to build housing that is tax exempt to avoid this problem in the future.

Nonetheless, campus housing’s growing pains sound temporary, according to Schmidt and Chapman. The university breaks ground for the new residence hall on upper campus this February.

Once the new residence hall is complete, Schmidt expects 1,000 new beds will be added to ease the housing shortage.