By Jam Lewis, Staff Writer
At the culmination of the spring 2018 semester, USM Residential Life will step into action to follow through on a planned three project expansion to Philippi, Woodward and Anderson Hall. This entails beautification for dorms by the end of summer. The Director of Residential Life and Housing, Christina Lowery, provides the specifics of her area of expertise and what to look forward to regarding the positive changes affecting dorm life.
“Residential Life and Housing serve a dual capacity with the first being administrative and the latter being programmatic support,” she explained. Residential Life assists with all things housing-related including “room assignments, billing accurately and meal plans,” Lowery added. Meanwhile, the housing staff also provides students with academic reinforcements for successful degree completion. The housing support from Residential Advisor’s (RA’s) varies from interactive workshops for skill building, socializing and getting to know neighbors, communal etiquette directions and mentors.
More often the university is the initial residence where young people will experience what it means to live independently. Dormitories and residence halls are likely to be a student’s first home away from home while they tackle their degree program. Students have much to gain with the support of an RA who can teach them how to cook for themselves and communal etiquette for sharing bathrooms and kitchens.
Some of USM’s campus residents have been here long enough to notice the normal wear and tear of rooms and buildings. Just like any other residential setting, repairs cannot be ignored because communal societies have regular turnover. For upcoming changes to the Anderson, Woodward and Philippi dorms here’s a brief outline:
New furniture including chairs; metal beds with loft kits for adjustable heights; two-piece dressers for stacking or use as bedside tables and extra-long twin mattresses. Lowery added “the new furniture gives more flexibility for rearranging triple-rooms.”
The building has siding that needs replacing due to manufacturing defects in the old siding. One half of the building was completed last summer to cut back moisture issues in the rooms.
Russell Scholars will be moving away from Woodward into Upton-Hastings (UH) and the first floor classrooms in UH will be enhanced for the Russell Scholars and other programs academic use. As the demand for housing increased, the decision was made to makeover Woodward to make room for more students.
Residential Life has been on the lookout in enrollment over several years and they saw the housing demands increase based on the demographics. But Lowery said, “We have 40 more first year students and more than 170 returning students requesting housing, which is something we could have never anticipated.” However, Residential Life did anticipate the need to create enhanced occupancy suites in Philippi and Upper Class. “Our value is that we want to house everyone who wants housing,” Lowery said. “When we say no to housing we’re saying no to someone’s education even if it’s a three person room, that means 1 more student who has access to education at USM.”
Residential Life also works in tandem with Disabled Service Center (DSC) to satisfy the necessary accommodations for students that best fit their academic success. In assessing DSC there appear to be more dogs visible on campus. Dogs are becoming more socialized with the residents thanks to government mandates to accept Support Animals and Emotional Support Animals (ESA). Part of campus enhanced occupancy is including students who need ESAs. To clarify, there is a bit of variance in the definitions for needing animals according to Residential Life and DSC. DSC refers to the animals as ESAs and not pets, while RLH treat ESAs “kind of as a prescription” according to Lowery. As a student liaison, Residential Life is open to fulfilling a student’s formal request via DSC or individual conversation.
When residential students return in the fall, they can look forward to update dorm rooms and buildings on the Gorham campus. Residential Life will be working hard over the summer to create a comfortable environment for all students living on campus.