Housing officials at Memorial University say that the changes planned for the fall semester 2007 to the university’s housing complex in St. John’s will result in a minimal displacement of students.
In an effort to provide more residence rooms for first-year students, the university will open up its Burton’s Pond Apartment complex to these students. In addition, it is increasing the number of first-years who will be admitted to its Paton College residences.
The changes have come about after considerable consultation with residence student leaders. However, some current students have expressed two concerns about the changes. They are concerned that this will mean wide-scale displacement of senior students from the residence complex and that the changes will alter the culture and environment that makes Memorial’s residence life appealing to so many students.
But the university has looked at all those issues, says Christine Burke, Memorial’s director of student housing and conference services.
“Our research and projections indicate that there will be minimal displacement of students who want to return to residence,” she says. “For example, we plan to provide 316 places for returning students in Paton College and 256 places for returning students in Burton’s Pond Apartments. From our experience, we know that the normal return rate at Burton’s Pond is 45 per cent, so there will be a lot of vacancies created by that and we expect some of the current Paton College students to move over to the more independent living arrangement of Burton’s Pond. That will leave more vacancies in Paton College for the additional first-years we need to accommodate.”
As for the concern about the culture change, Ms. Burke concedes that having more first-years students in residence will be different. But she says the university has discussed these matters with residence leaders and there is some positive anticipation of how the changes will play out.
“There will still be considerable numbers of senior students throughout residence and we hope that they will play an important mentoring role with our newer students,” she said. “They know what it’s like to live in residence, to go to Memorial and to be in St. John’s and we feel -- and we have some very encouraging feedback from some of the more senior student leaders -- that this new arrangement will be positive for both the seniors and the first-years.”