By: Chelsea Marquis, Staff Writer
After several years of planning, USM now has funding to construct a new 550 bed residence hall and student center on the Portland campus. A student committee will be formed to give students a voice in the design of the buildings.
The idea of constructing a residence hall on the Portland campus is a result of the lack of affordable housing in the Portland area, according to Chief Executive Officer Nancy Griffin. Griffin said many students over the years have voiced the struggle of finding affordable housing while in school, especially upperclassmen, graduate, and law students. The university intends to alleviate some of the housing struggles for students by constructing the residence hall.
One of the most important aspects of designing the buildings is deciding where current clubs, organizations, and amenities will be located. This is why USM students are essential to the planning process. According to Griffin, there will be a student committee forming in Spring 2020, enabling students to have a direct role in shaping the future of the dorm and student center. “It is essential that we get input from students themselves because it is what they will be using every day, and what other students will be using years from now,” said Griffin.
A requirement of the funding of this construction is having art within the buildings, according to Griffin. Students on the committee will get to choose what art and where it will go.
Any student is welcome to join the committee. The meetings will be every other week, and students must be able to commit to attending committee meetings until the construction of the buildings are done. “Serving on a committee will provide great experience and it would be great for a student’s resume,” says Griffin.
Construction is projected to begin around the end of the Spring 2020 semester. Capstone Development Partners is contracted to construct the buildings and redevelop the surrounding areas, with a projected end date of Fall 2022. The Woodbury Student Center will be demolished to make room for the residence hall, which will be built in an L-shape. The student center will face where the parking lot currently is, towards Bedford Street. The parking lot will be turned into a campus green. Parking spaces will not be lost, however, as there are plans to find other parking areas on campus.
“USM will make sure that while the construction is going on, students still have access to the services they have now. No parking spaces will be lost with this construction. USM will be creating more parking spaces, as we know that parking is already an issue,” said Griffin.
Three types of rooms will be offered in the residence hall: studio apartments, one to two-bedroom apartments, or suites. The residence hall will be available for upperclassmen, graduate students, and law students. The campus center will have an improved dining hall and ample space for student organizations. A skywalk will connect the two buildings, which will be secured so that only residence hall students can enter and exit.
Student organizations that are in Woodbury Student Center will be moved in the Spring of 2020, when Griffin hopes to have a groundbreaking ceremony and begin construction. The bookstore, which is currently in the breezeway of Glickman Library, has recently been approved to move permanently to the Office of Graduate Studies. The Office of Graduate Studies will move to the Wishcamper center, which will happen over winter break.