“What do you want housing at Albion College to look like?”
That’s the question posed by the Student Housing Task Force for students to answer. The team is lead by vice president for alumni relations and advancement Bob Anderson and Nathan Kellum, a junior student senator from Northville, Michigan.
The question is being put forth at a time when Albion’s institutional advancement office says its optimistic about new housing development in the college’s future.
“We know it’s not an unlimited budget and any decisions we make will take time to find the donors for,” said Anderson. “Now is the time for listening.”
Anderson is optimistic that many potential donors may open up a number of possibilities for the college.
The Student Housing Task Force was developed in order to gauge student interest on housing and to find out what it is that students want to see happen with their current living options.
Kellum, on behalf of Student Senate, approached the institutional advancement department about obtaining insights on student housing. The department agreed and created a task force of staff and students.
The team is also looking at potential donor interest and searching for that sweet spot where the needs of students and interests of donors align.
Anderson said that student interest drives the institutional advancement’s discussions with donors and the Task Force has been designed to ensure that this is the case.
“The Task Force will give us a good idea of what’s the most important goal,” said Anderson. “Should we do remodeling? Should we add new housing? Should we do some sort of combination of both within the realistic limits of what we can do?”
The task force has gauged recommendations through student forums, which took place on March 14 and 15, and surveys. From these forums and surveys (those students took at the forum and others which the task force will send out to the student body electronically), the team hopes to find what students are most concerned about.
“What we want to do is find out what do our students want, first and foremost, and what services incoming students,” said Anderson .
Completed surveys show that putting air conditioning in dorms ranked number one on student recommendations. Other list-toppers include more suite-style living and apartment-style living options. Apartments for groups of four people instead of six are preferred.
Another option that is on the Task Force’s radar is off-campus housing options.
“We’ve gotten some feedback that living loft-style in town over businesses would be interesting,” said Anderson. “So that’s interesting to us, too, because there’s this whole renovation of downtown, and if there was a time for us to think about something like that now’s it.”
Anderson said college administration would need to hear more from students supporting such an initiative before heavy consideration is given.
Students might then wonder how important their voices really are.
“Rarely is there anything more powerful to a donor than a student’s opinion,” said Anderson.
The Task Force hopes that by the fall of 2019 it will be able make decisions on what students want to happen and what direction it can go based on the data they gathered from students.
But the team still needs more information. So far, the members formed a basis of understanding on key issues like air conditioning, special interest housing and suite and apartment style living. Now, they want to find where students stand on these key issues.
Is it more important to invest in upperclassmen housing or make underclassmen housing more attractive? Is it better to renovate or build new buildings? Is air conditioning more important or increased water bottle stations in dormitories?
Some students might have thoughts on housing that weren’t picked up by the task force’s surveys and forums.
“If a student thinks it’s important enough to stop and write a well-thought-out email on what’s important to them, that would probably be the biggest impactor, versus a voice at a meet,” said Anderson. “That kind of input is really valuable to us.”
Even three sentences would be helpful, he said.
The email firstname.lastname@example.org goes directly to Anderson’s inbox as well as the inbox of all the other Task Force Members. He promises to read each email received.