Florida college can’t fill new dorms

Community college students can live in a brand-new residence hall at Edison State College in Ft. Myers, Florida. But the $26.3 million Lighthouse Commons is only two-thirds full, reports the News Press. That means the 405-bed complex will lose money this year.

Standard rates are $3,300 per semester, per student for two-bedroom units, or $3,000 for each student living in a four-bedroom unit; all utilities are included.

The complex was 74 percent full at the start of the fall semester, but “several dozen students were evicted for violating dorm policies or non-payment, graduated or left for other reasons,” reports the News Press. At the start of spring semester, the occupancy rate was down to 65 percent.

LightHouse Commons will have a wait list within two years, predicts Russell Watjen, vice president of student affairs.

Security guards keep non-residents from entering the building without an escort, but some residents complain of problems outside the building.

Arthur Magiera, a 19-year-old sophomore from Naples, remains in LightHouse Commons this term, but said drug and alcohol use among other students has been a problem. He also questions strict residence hall policies, like the one governing visitors of the opposite sex.

“I can’t have my girlfriend here past midnight,” he said. “They enforce that but don’t do anything about what’s happening outside the building.”

Late at night, Magiera said groups of intoxicated students congregate outdoors and intimidate residents.

Ten of 28 Florida community and state colleges offer on-campus housing. Many campuses also offer four-year degrees in vocational fields.

Community colleges add housing

Community colleges are building dorms and leasing apartments to attract out-of-the-area students and provide a residential “college experience.”

Half of New York community colleges offer student housing and more are considering it, reports the Post-Star

In June, Dutchess Community College broke ground on a 465-bed residential hall.

In Schenectady, the community college is working with a company to build a student housing complex adjacent to the campus.

At Finger Lakes Community College, a residential hall opened in 2007 and officials want to add more to meet a demand that leads to a long wait list in the fall.

. . . SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury might soon join the group. The community college has designs for a 406-bed housing facility on campus, and is now determining the cost and means to finance it.

Student housing must pay its own way.  Community college is a lot more expensive with room and board added on, but there are students — or parents — who see residential life as worth the extra money.

“There are a lot of students who would like to live away and have the college experience,” said Ronald Heacock, president of SUNY Adirondack.

“I think most community colleges view that this is going to be the future for community colleges,” said Ron Marquette, a SUNY Ulster spokesman. His college is looking into offering housing.

Florida Keys Community College, which attracts out-of-state and out-of-county students to its marine science and diving program, has opened a new dorm.

Kansas City Kansas Community College is offering student housing for the first time. The college rented two apartment buildings near campus.

Room in the dorm for pre-transfers

Washtenaw Community College students are getting a jump on residential college life: Future transfers at the Ann Arbor, Michigan school can live in the dorms of Eastern Michigan University less than a mile away in Ypsilanti.

EMU had an empty dorm to fill. Washtenaw had students planning to transfer to EMU who wanted an on-campus living experience.

Some “community colleges are going residential as more traditional-age students enroll and expect a fuller campus experience,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

EMU now houses eight Washtenaw students and could handle 40 next semester.

Washtenaw also is leasing classroom space for night classes from the University of Michigan, which is down the street in Ann Arbor.