Students living in converted study rooms in UMKC dorms

Cierra Howe and Alex Fulton

UMKC students are staying in converted study rooms this semester due to the lack of housing on campus.

The converted study rooms, also referred to as six-person suites, are just one of the options students have for living on campus. Study rooms were being underutilized in the dorms, which is why Residential Life decided to turn them into additional suites, said UMKC’s Director of Residential Life Sean Grube.

Sophomore Camila Aponte is one of the students living in a converted study room.

“You feel uncomfortable when it’s one in the morning, you just had a coffee or a Monster, and you need to use the restroom,” said Aponte. “You don’t want to wake your suitemates trying to cross over for a one-minute usage of the bathroom, but it’s what you have to do.”

converted study room, part of the six-person suites

Due to pipe damage that shut down Oak Place Apartments last year, UMKC has been busy finding housing options for displaced students.

Grube said students are also located in two Union Hill Apartments locations, the John Paul II Commons, Oak Street and Johnson halls, and the Hospital Hill Apartments. Additionally, the university is placing students in rooms with residential assistants who normally would not have roommates.

Grube said Residential Life determines where students will be staying based on their contracts, preferences or organization memberships.

About two weeks before move-in day, the housing office notified Aponte and her roommate of a housing shortage. Student housing moved the girls into a six-person suite, although they requested a four-person suite on their application.

The university told Aponte and her roommate they could possibly be moved into a four-person suite together, once the water-damaged and mold-infested rooms were renovated by October.

Aponte and her roommate were promised a reduction of $5,968 per academic year, instead of $7,022 for a four-person suite.

“It’s something,” Aponte said, regarding the six-person suite. “But it’s not the best situation.”

Unlike four-person suites, six-person suites do not connect by a single bathroom. Instead, two of the rooms surround the bathroom, while one of the rooms has a door connecting to a third room, which is a former study room.

“[Last year] you knew your suitemates better,” said Aponte. “Despite being in a six-person suite and all of us being essentially connected, I have almost said nothing to the girls on the opposite side because I never see them.”

Residential Life informed students that these spaces are only temporary conditions, and that it will assign students a permanent space once one becomes available, said Grube.

“I think UMKC’s doing the best they can, however, I would like to see more communication with the students in terms of how far they are on the renovations,” said Aponte.

The status of when Oak Place Apartments will be up and running again is undetermined, due to insurance claims and lawsuits, said UMKC’s Director of Public Relations John Martellaro. He emphasized that any building containing heating, cooling, plumbing or electrical elements will always have intermittent problems that will need fixing.

Martellaro said UMKC’s Chancellor, C. Mauli Agrawal, has mentioned putting together a “housing task force.”

Grube said an important part of the plan is going to be focusing on community partnerships and housing for students off campus.

Martellaro said UMKC is focusing on both short and long-term efforts to improve housing. He said UMKC wants to become more residential and have a higher percentage of students living on campus, but this will take years.

“We want to make this situation as comfortable as possible,” said Grube. “We want students to have a great experience and to be successful.”

Grube said Oak Street Hall renovations are expected to be complete by next spring.

“We understand that this is an inconvenience, but we will not move students into living spaces that do not meet our standards,” said Grube.

 

chtx9@mail.umkc.edu

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