College Planning & Management

JUN 2012

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LIVING ON CAMPUS fewer than 200 students. There is less use of key cards for rooms, but 40 percent of the projects now use them compared to 25 percent 10 years ago. One would think that most students would prefer to have an access card that cannot be duplicated. Not installing them may be a cost factor. Video surveillance as a security measure can be controversial. When we fi rst started asking about this feature, we did not dis- tinguish between external surveillance and internal surveillance, but respondents did. They were more comfortable with outside systems that detected people going to and from residence halls than internal surveil- lance systems that showed who among the residents and visitors went room to room. That divide is defi nitely narrowing, with 80 percent of the projects providing external surveillance, 72 percent internal. Smaller residences do not tend to use internal sur- veillance, and less than half install external systems. It may be that there is a campus system already in place, so the residence hall itself does not need to install one. In the Southwest, every college responding now uses both internal and external surveillance. The provision of carpeting in student rooms fell this year to 50 percent. Previ- ously, carpeting had been installed in two-thirds of residences. Colleges in the Southwest tend not to provide carpeting (only 15 percent do) while those in the Midwest almost always provide it. Is the difference related to cold fl oors during cold winters in the Midwest? How the Costs Are Divided While the bulk of the cost for any resi- dence hall construction is for the building itself, a key question in analyzing projects is the additional amount paid for work beyond the actual construction, including fees, fur- nishings and furniture, site work, etc. This is not an easy breakdown to obtain. For one, many architects (who provide information on construction costs) are not involved in purchasing furniture and furnishings. Architects also have a handle on their fees, but not on the fees of attorneys, bond market experts, and other consultants the college may use. Moreover, some colleges' "other expenses" are far more encompassing than others, so even when full informa- tion is obtained, it may not be comparable. Despite all these obstacles, it is useful to try to determine how the total cost of a residence hall project is divided. Table 3 (on page 28) looks at that. Respondents at 28 colleges provided their full and best possible information on how the total dollars were split at their institution. (Respondents at the other 22 provided total project cost but could not break down all of the components.) As Table 3 shows, the me- dian spent more than 83 percent of the cost on construction itself, a slight increase from previous years. Another 3.91 percent went to furniture and furnishings while 7.44 percent was allocated for fees. The catchall "other" (which should include site preparation but not the cost of purchasing a site) accounted for $5.43 of every $100 spent. Even among these 28, there were differ- ences about what should be counted where. Table 3 also shows the range of responses. Thus, construction accounted for as much as 90.5 percent of one college's costs and as little as 72 percent at another. Similar variations from the norm are shown for furniture and furnishings, fees, and other expenses. Some- body could do a signifi cant service for college construction by creating standard defi ni- tions for the various categories of spending. Owners and Operators Seventy-eight percent of the residence halls included in the study will be owned by the college. The private contractors who constructed them for the college will own the balance. When it comes to managing the buildings, 92 percent will be managed and operated by the college, whether the college or a private entity owns the build- ing. There were no signifi cant differences by size of project, location, or governance. How Are Students Accommodated? In ancient times, when I attended col- lege, a residence hall room had sleeping arrangements for one student, two, four, 30 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / JUNE 2012 even eight. Everyone used gang toilets, sometimes on the same fl oor, sometimes not. There was a telephone somewhere in a hallway, and there might or might not be open areas for socializing or lounging. There were no provisions for preparing food. Dormitories, as they were called, were for sleeping and studying, and little else. Those days are long gone. But how exactly are students accommodated? The word "suites" is often used to describe accommodations. But what is a suite, how many students use it, and what does it in- clude? To try to get a better handle on this, this year we posed a series of questions specifi cally on how students were housed and how bathroom facilities were allocated. The compiled answers to these questions are shown in Table 4 (on page 32). Our question asked what percentage of students would be housed in individual rooms, suites/apartments for two people, or suites/apartments for four to eight persons. As Table 4 shows, on a national basis (with responses coming from 35 residence halls), a little better than half the students being accommodated will be housed in individual rooms. About 35 percent will be in two-person suites while the balance (14 percent) will be in suites or apartments designed to house four to eight students. (I am somewhat surprised by the number in individual rooms and wonder if, in at least some cases, those are individual rooms within a suite for sev- eral students. Next year's questionnaire will try to clarify that.) In smaller residences (fewer than 200 beds), more students appear to be in larger groups. In six residence halls located in the Midwest there are no single rooms, but in the 10 reporting residence halls in the Southeast, almost 90 percent of students are in individual rooms. In the small sam- ple from the West, the emphasis appears to be on larger groups (four to eight students). Public and private colleges appear to have similar arrangements. Does the amount spent make a differ- ence in how students are housed? We took WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM

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