Updated master plan builds in grad housing
Carla Companion and Rob Lawrence, Staff Writer and TNH Reporter
Issue date: 4/6/04 Section: News
The demand for graduate family housing has been increasing over the years as UNH gains prestige as a research university, says David Howland, a former graduate representative for the UNH Master Plan Committee.
The increase in demand has created a waiting list for the Forest Park Apartments.
There are approximately 2,000 graduate students enrolled at UNH, and many of them are from foreign countries. International graduate students often have a difficult time finding affordable housing, Howland said.
The graduate housing crunch is primarily due to the lack of space for families on campus. Last semester, it was announced that three of the current Forest Park Apartments, a total of 12 units, would be demolished to make way for the new road that will pass under the railroad tracks and complete the campus loop. This demolition may put an even greater strain on the graduate student community on campus.
Babcock Hall, the only other graduate housing on campus, was designed for single graduate students. Kevin Carroll, the Babcock Hall director, says that many students would prefer suite-style rooms or on-campus apartments.
"Quite a few graduate students look for less expensive housing with their own kitchen and bathrooms," Carroll said.
Carroll also said that Babcock Hall is not currently filled to capacity with graduate students.
In the future, UNH is planning to gradually create more housing for graduate students as part of a four-phase Master Plan.
One hundred Woodside Apartment units are slated for renovation within the next five years to be converted into family housing for graduate students in the first phase of the project. At the same time, 56 units will eventually be demolished at Forest Park.
Phase two of the project calls for the construction of 120 new apartment units to be constructed at a location that has not yet been chosen. The remaining 98 units of Forest Park will be removed at this time. Later phases call for the construction of a new 170-unit graduate housing facility at a location to be determined.
The fate of some Forest Park apartment residents remains unclear as the University continues dialogue with graduate students over the Campus Master Plan. The demolition of three Forest Park apartment buildings has been postponed from the original schedule that would have had the demolition take place this summer. Concerned students and administrators recommended the delay in an attempt to find accommodations for the families displaced by the construction.
Representatives from the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) have made an effort to make graduate student housing a priority.
"The GSO is working to try and make sure the long-term plans include advocating for graduate students with children," Howland said.
The Campus Master Plan calls for sequential demolitions, renovations and construction to ultimately provide more than 200 new units for graduate housing over the entire course of the plan, which could be over the next 15 years or more.
Some, however, are concerned about the order in which the construction will occur.
"Our concern is that new housing should be built before existing housing is destroyed," said Sarah Kenik, co-president of the GSO.
Kenik says that the University has been listening to their concerns.
"Initially there was a concern that we weren't being heard," she said. "But when we took a more active involvement, the University responded well."
Graduate student housing will continue to be a priority as graduate enrollment increases. Kenik stressed the importance of housing availability.
"Graduate students who need housing should be able to get it," she said.