The number of students living in residence is decreasing at STU, but that by no means indicates student life will become duller.
“Having fewer students [in residence] doesn’t mean we’ll reduce our efforts in any way to ensure a good residence experience for the students that are in there,” said Nancy O’Shea, director of student services and residence life.
There are fewer students staying in residence this year compared to last year. As of mid-September there are 568 students in STU’s five residences; approximately 100 fewer than last year. In a school of around 2,200 students, almost three-quarters of those students live off-campus.
One possible explanation for this decrease is the predicted drop in enrolment at STU. Fewer students are enrolling in school. There also aren’t as many students coming into their first year and most students in residence are fresh from high school. Usually, as students move through their university careers at STU, they tend to move off-campus.
“We do have students that continue. Some will stay the full four years. But that’s not the average student. It’s unusual,” said O’Shea.
Fewer people in residence means, of course, less money. However, this won’t result in any increase in prices. STU has a separate budget for operating the residences. This year, as laid out in the STU budget summary, the residence budget is $4.8 million. Part of this chunk of money goes toward paying off the debt of renovating Rigby Hall and building Chatham Hall. According to the summary, if there are fewer students occupying residences, the repayment of the Chatham and Rigby Hall debt will simply slow down.
“We want to run the budget on a break-even basis. The fact that we’re down in residence is a concern for us. But from a financial perspective, it’s not a circumstance where there’s a deficit,” says Jeffrey Carleton, director of communications.
On the bright side, there’s a new plan in place to revamp the older residences: Holy Cross, Harrington and Vanier. These buildings will be assessed for their need and renovations will be doled out accordingly.
“We’re at the starting phase to see what we want to do to revitalize and refurbish the residences on campus,” said Carleton.
Taylor Dube, president of Harrington Hall, thinks it’s important to keep residence life alive. If numbers start to drop, which they haven’t yet in Harrington, she says the residence leaders will just have to step up their game.
“It really depends on the leaders of the residences. They set the tone. Welcome Week is all about getting invested into your house, and the attitudes you create during that first stage of [your] experience at STU, and in residence, that goes a long way.”
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