Mercer Cluster

Growing Pains: Rising seniors may still find housing on campus next year

The+bridge+connects+the+Phase+5+Lofts+to+Mercer%27s+campus.
The bridge connects the Phase 5 Lofts to Mercer's campus.

The bridge connects the Phase 5 Lofts to Mercer's campus.

Blossom Onunekwu

Blossom Onunekwu

The bridge connects the Phase 5 Lofts to Mercer's campus.

Matthew Causey, Staff Writer

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If you’re a rising senior, which is a fourth-year student or above, you may have received an email last month stating that you wouldn’t be guaranteed on-campus housing for the next academic year, but Jeff Takac, the director of housing at Mercer University, said this is normal.

Takac said the email is sent to rising seniors every year just as a reminder that seniors aren’t guaranteed housing and should explore off-campus options just in case.

“The concept is, we don’t know if we can house all of (the seniors), and last year they said we didn’t give them enough time to look for a place off campus,” Takac said. “The memo was, ‘You need to start looking.’ It doesn’t mean you won’t get housing on campus, but you need to look just in case you don’t.”

Takac said that the process has essentially been flipped this time to warn rising seniors that they aren’t guaranteed housing on campus before the housing contracts go out.

He said the main thing that has changed is that because of the flip, housing was not able to tell rising seniors how many spaces are available for them yet.

Housing will not have an exact number of available spots for seniors to live on campus next year until after housing contracts are submitted, he said. In past years, housing has been successful in getting most seniors on-campus housing if they wanted it, Takac said.

“Anyone who stayed on the (waiting list) got in,” Takac said.

He said the list started with over 100 students. However, some of those people left the school or campus for various reasons such as transfers or studying abroad, Takac said.

“The freshman class is bigger this year, so the sophomore housing spaces will fill more. We’ll probably push a few more people off campus that are seniors this year,” Takac said.

There is currently a petition going around amongst rising seniors with a link on the Class of 2019 Facebook page about housing. The petition has over 100 signatures, and there are several comments from students that express unhappiness with the housing situation for students.

Issues range from availability for rising seniors to the three-year on-campus living requirement.

“The university went to a three-year requirement years ago because a lot of competitors do it,” Takac said. “It was done because we know students do better, they retain better, they’re more active on campus. There’s just a lot of benefits that far outweigh not (having the requirement).”

Takac said the Lofts will be available to seniors after the rest of campus has completed housing.

After underclassmen complete their housing requests, the remaining on-campus residence halls and Lofts will become available to rising seniors. Takac said that, while limited, there should definitely be some spaces available in the Lofts and other on-campus housing.

There may be some underclassmen who want to room with rising seniors in the Lofts with them next year, which is also a possibility. Housing recently sent out an email to the student body about this as well.

“We’re trying to get their names so that when we do have spaces open up, we can try to help them make sure everybody’s getting what they want,” Takac said.

With the ever-growing student population, housing availability is going to become more tightly packed, Takac said, but the phase seven Lofts will go up next to the Lofts at Mercer Landing.

Nikki Rogers, the corporate property manager for Sierra Development—the company that owns the Lofts—said in an email that there will be about 300 beds in the new Lofts.

“Construction has already begun, and we will have it ready for the 2019 school year,” Rogers said in an email. Rogers also said in the email that the Lofts will have another parking garage built with them. More information on this can be found in another Cluster article.

Takac said these new Lofts will not be available for students to move in to until next school year, which will not help current rising seniors who still want to live on campus. However, it will add extra available housing for students in the following years.

Takac said that when these Lofts are completed, they will help in creating more availability for future rising seniors who want to live on campus for their senior years.

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Growing Pains: Rising seniors may still find housing on campus next year