There are more than 450 Hillsdale students living off campus this year — the most in the school’s history.
Some junior men said they are unsatisfied with housing options, after not receiving an assigned room on campus for the 2016 – 2017 academic year, making them find housing elsewhere. Although the Hillsdale College website’s residential life page says students are “guaranteed a room in a residence hall for all four years,” administrators said growing freshman classes and high retention rates have decreased the number of beds available to upperclassmen.
In 2006, there were 231 students living off campus. In the last decade, that figure has nearly doubled to 450.
“When we talk to students after graduation, they loved their experience in the dorms,” Dean of Women Diane Philipp said. “They loved getting to know people and build relationships. You can still do that off campus, but it’s a bit different.”
With just four men’s dorms on campus — Simpson, Galloway, and Niedfeldt residences and the Suites — upperclassman men have fewer options than the women, who can choose between nine. Dean of Men Aaron Petersen said about one third of Hillsdale’s men traditionally live off campus, even if some of those men would prefer to live in a dorm.
“There are guys who don’t want to move off campus but know they have a duty to help make room,” Petersen said. “They’d rather be on campus making relationships.”
Junior Brendan Noble said administrators notified him to find off-campus housing for the 2016 – 2017 school year in late June, after he didn’t receive a room assignment in Simpson.
“I was not encouraged or given a choice to move off campus,” Noble said. “I was angry. I loved living in Simpson, and I felt unfairly targeted considering how involved I had been in the dorm and had hoped to be a resident assistant for at least my senior year.”
In August, students and administrators who participated in the Student Leadership Workshop, a week-long course for campus leaders, brainstormed ideas for a new upperclassman dorm. Although plans are still under development, Philipp said the dorm would offer more rooms for upperclassmen. With Galloway as the next dorm on the college’s renovations docket, a new dorm could also help solve a displacement problem, as well, since Galloway, like Mauck Residence, will need more than one semester to be updated.
Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé said the dorm would be built near Benzing Residence on college-owned land and be about the same size. The dorm would house around 60 students, offering at least single and double bedrooms and community-style bathrooms. Each bed would cost around $50,000-$52,000, amounting to an estimated $3.2 million total cost, Péwé said.
Still, Péwé said building the dorm remains hypothetical, and a timeline is far from finalized. The dorm would likely take eight to 10 months to construct.
“Galloway is probably okay for a couple of years,” Péwé said. “My guess is that we would start something in the fall of 2019, in a perfect world. But we’ve been using surplus money for renovations, so it’s hard to say.”
Some students, however, said they would like to see the new building sooner rather than later.
“A new dorm is a necessity,” Noble said. “It doesn’t need to be large, but there needs to be the option for people to live on campus. I believe actually required things, like a new dorm, are being overlooked.”