SGA senate was packed Monday night as students came out to be part of the conversation about the lack of housing available for juniors and seniors.
Representatives from the university came to try to respond to their concerns.
The general consensus of Jeff Takac, the Director of Residence Life, and Scott Davis, the Provost, is that they are in a bind this year when it comes to housing.
Mercer will have another large Freshman class coming in for Fall, and because of the housing registration setup and three year housing requirement, upperclassmen have restricted, on-campus living options for the upcoming academic year.
“We are managing this the best we can. We can’t build a dorm overnight,” Davis said.
However, there are students who are concerned about not being able to live on campus.
Among the points various students raised:
If students are unable to get a Garden apartment and cannot afford a Loft, what are they supposed to do?
Takac recommended off-campus housing but also said that there were some spots still available in Shorter Hall if students had to have that lower cost.
If students do end up in the Lofts but do not have a car, will there be any services available to help them with transportation?
According to SGA members as well as members of the administration, there are plans for a transportation system for those students that are living in the phase IV Lofts.
How can the Office of Residence Life improve communications with students so that they are aware of their options before their options have run out?
Takac said that they have “bombarded” students with emails and updates. However, some students still don’t check or read the emails, so they don’t know what’s going on until it’s too late.
What does the housing allotment look like for future years?
With the new residence hall being constructed behind MEP and Plunkett, there will be 300 new beds added for incoming Freshman, Takac said. This will take off some of the pressure for on campus housing options. He said that they are hoping to then reinstate Sherwood as a sophomore residence hall, which would also free up the apartments for more upperclassmen. But this also depends on the size of future incoming classes.
What do class sizes look like for future years?
According to Davis, it’s incredibly hard to tell what class sizes will be. Schools have models that predict the likelihood of students both putting down a deposit and coming to the school, and for the past few years, those models for Mercer have been wrong. Because of that, they’re looking at the possibility of capping the number of deposits they accept so that they don’t end up with more students than they can house.
Joey Wozniak, the SGA President, facilitated the conversation. And he said that while the concerns raised by the students were valid and needed to be heard, the administration is also doing their best.
“Mercer is working on it. They came to listen to us. They are sensitive to student issues. If you lose your Mercer Pride and love for an institution because of the fact that you weren’t guaranteed senior housing, that is and should be provided for underclassmen those guys should be prepared [for the real world] now,” he said.
He said that we should be grateful for the housing that we do have, because some schools like Auburn University don’t even guarantee on-campus housing for freshman.
“We have it good,” Wozniak said. “We really do.”