Volume 91, Issue 35

Thursday, October 30, 1997



New rez site announced

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

The seed has been planted for Western to grow once again as plans for a new residence begin to sprout.

In a Board of Governors meeting yesterday, a feasibility study for Western's newest residence was approved and a final decision date was set for January 1998.

The new residence is scheduled to open in 1999 at its proposed location on University Drive, across from Medway and Sydenham residences. A feasibility study put forth to the Board by the Property and Finance Committee outlined the details of the residence.

Construction on the building is expected to begin in the Spring of 1998. The $20 million building will be 1,600 square metres in size and a maximum of four to five stories high. It is expected to hold 400 beds and will be modeled after Essex Hall with four-bedroom suites, shared lounge space, study and music rooms and a cafeteria.

The need for the new residence is crucial, as Western's enrollment numbers are expected to rise even higher than this year and the university administration is firm in its commitment to ensuring every first-year-student a place in residence, Western's President Paul Davenport said.

The University Drive site was chosen from eight prospective locations, including Springett parking lot and the Research Park. Some negative aspects of the site, as outlined in the study, are that it will take up some recreational space and it may incur some minor traffic safety implications.

The feasibility study also compares Western's residence situation to Queen's, Guelph and Waterloo universities. Western's current number of residence spaces for students is 3,065 – less than all of these comparable universities. With the added residence, this number jumps to 3,465 – which would put Western at par with its counterparts.

"What we are doing is actually playing catch-up with the other universities," said Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration.

Davenport explained the building will be funded by residence fees. He also addressed the concern of removing upper-year students from residence and said in a few years, the university may be facing lower enrollment numbers which may allow the administration to turn their attention to providing floors or buildings specifically for students of particular faculties.

Dan Phillipson, president of Delaware's residents' council, said he is pleased with the new initiative but the administration needs to consider what they are doing by removing upper-year students from residence. "They plan to take them out for a year, but we have been given no indication they intend to put them back in," he said.

Susan Grindrod, senior director of housing and food services, said she is not prepared to make plans for 1999 concerning upper-year students as it will depend primarily on enrollment numbers at the time. "It would be our plan to recover something similar to what we have now."

University Students' Council President Ryan Parks said he is hopeful the current ratio of first-year students and upper-year students will return after next year. "I am concerned, though, that housing will flush out the [residents'] councils and bring in appointed 'associations' instead, which is not acceptable. We must have elected representatives in residences."

To Contact The News Department: gaznews@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997