by Adria Walker
Millsaps currently has eight residential halls—Goodman House, New South Hall, Becky Bacot Hall, Ezelle Hall, Sanderson Hall, and the New Dorms and four fraternity houses—Lambda Chi Alpha House, Sigma Alpha Epsilon House, Kappa Sigma House, and Kappa Alpha Order House.
With an incoming freshman class of 251 students and a campus-wide goal of maintaining a trend of increasing the number of enrolled students, concerns about adequate housing on campus for these and future undergraduates were inevitable.
“This year there was not [a challenge in housing students], we managed to get everybody housed, we still had some spaces available,” Patrick Cooper, assistant dean of students said. Cooper said last minute student cancellations led to some students not having roommates, leaving spaces available for this year’s students.
With the Business Office’s goal of continuing to increase the number of enrolled students each year (https://millsapspandw.wpcomstaging.com/2016/09/22/business-office-changes-and-their-consequences/), available spaces may be a luxury that Residence Life doesn’t have in the future. “If we have [a large amount of students in the coming years], I am hoping that Franklin will be potentially renovated and operational,” Cooper said.
Franklin Hall, which, in previous years, was a co-ed three-floor dormitory on the north side of campus that could house 90 students, is no longer used to house students—instead it is available for groups to rent for events. In the future, it may need to be a dormitory again.
Because Millsaps cuts financial aid for students who live off-campus, it is difficult for students who no longer wish to live in a dormitory, but who cannot afford to lose their financial aid, to move into off-campus housing. If the incoming freshmen classes are as large as the institution is hoping that they are, however, Millsaps’ financial aid policy may have to change.
Cooper said that members from student life/residence life, the Business Office, Student Body Association and residential assistants met last year to look at very residence hall and anticipate any challenges that those residence halls would have that would benefit from administrational input. This group made a list of the top 11 housing priorities—from potential renovations to building new dorms and everything in between—before submitting the list of priorities to the administration.
Four years ago, a similar group met to discuss necessary changes on campus. Priorities from that group’s meeting four years ago can be seen on-campus today, which is a bid of confidence for the priorities of the previous year’s group being addressed.
The changes, which have had lasting benefits for students, included renovations on all sides of campus. “All the lobbies were renovated… Kappa Sig house was renovated (at the suggestion of the group), and that definitely opened up new opportunities for the campus and for the college,” Cooper said. “The students last year didn’t put too much emphasis on [renovating] Franklin, but they wanted the administration to come up with a plan for Franklin”
Since Cooper’s tenure at Millsaps as an administrator, over-crowed housing has not been an issue. However, this is a problem the campus faced in the years when he was not either an undergraduate student or an administrator. Cooper said that having a large number of students is a good problem for the institution to have.