10C - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2005
By Aymar Joan
SEPTEMBER 24, 2004
Daily Staff Writer
University Housing officials detailed plans to signifi-
cantly improve on-campus housing, including plans for
at least one new residence hall, renovations to two exist-
ing dorms and an overhaul to dining services.
The proposals, part of the Residential Life Initiatives,
have been in development for months. They result from
years of University research signaling the relatively
poor condition of on-campus housing. For more than 30
years, the University has not built a new residence hall,
even as the incoming classes have increased.
The University expects to begin building the new
residence hall in 2006, and it will not be finished
The University plans to renovate Mosher-Jordan Hall
or Stockwell Hall in 2006, and the other in 2007, so that
both are completed by 2008. During that time some stu-
dents will have to relocate to North Campus.
The University also plans to begin constructing two
new dining cafeterias in 2006 and make fire and other
safety improvements on existing dorms.
Administrators estimate all the new plans will cost
$250 to $280 million, but said that these numbers are
just preliminary.No additional housing rate increases are
expected beyond the typical 5 percent annual increases.
"Our efforts tie very closely to the president's ini-
tiative to reconnect, renovate and expand residential
life on campus," University Housing Director Carole
Henry said at a University Board of Regents meeting.
University President Mary Sue Coleman has, admin-
istrators say, staked her presidency on improving
residential life, believing it essential to recruit the best
students and create small living communities.
Despite the comprehensive nature of the housing plan,
to improve s
several regents at the meeting were skeptical of its impact.
At least two presentations proposing radical changes to
housing have been made in the past decade, but progress
was stalled when key administrators, including former
President Lee Bollinger, left for other schools. Regents
approved a resolution in 2001 giving direction to Univer-
sity Housing to build a new residence hall.
When elected in 1994, University Regent Andrea
Fischer Newman (R-Ann Arbor) made housing her per-
sonal priority. Before her term expires in 2008, she said
she would like to see results.
"We are putting significant pressure on the president
to move this," she said. "People here need to understand,
the frustration factor on the board level"
"Something needs to be done on this campus in terms
of housing because we're not keeping up," she added.
"We are behind, and we've been behind."
Several regents, including Olivia Maynard (D-
Goodrich), echoed this sentiment and urged University
Housing to move forward promptly on its recommenda-
tions. Maynard suggested that next month Henry bring
to the board some specific price information.
The new hall will feature apartment or suite-style
housing, private bathrooms and living rooms, which
have become increasingly popular over the years. "Those
days are over," Henry said, referring to past halls that
relied on communal bathrooms and narrow hallways.
The new hall will most likely include 500 to 650 beds,
and University Housing will make a considerable effort
to create small living communities in clusters of 20 to 25
students in the hall. But the total capacity of the Univer-
sity's residence halls may not increase by much because
some beds will be lost in halls where Housing creates
Henry said two of the most distinctive and memo-
rable halls on campus, Mosher-Jordan and Stockwell,
are first in line for renovations. Next would be Betsy
Barbour House, Helen Newberry House and West
Quad Residence Hall.
During that process, University Housing will
have to shut down each hall, one at a time, for an
entire school year. For those renovations, students
will most likely have to relocate to North Campus,
where administrators believe there is ample space to
accommodate this relocation. Overall, renovations
could take up to 20 years.
For new dining services, University Housing envi-
sions a marketplace setting with restaurant-quality din-
ing. One possible option could be grilling stations or
pasta bars. New dining centers will be located on Cen-
tral Campus and the Hill area, while Bursley Hall and
East Quad's centers will get renovations.
West Quad, Bursley and halls on the Hill could also
receive emporiums, which are a blend of a restaurant
and convenience store with cafe-seating, computers and
even plasma televisions. At least one dining center is
expected to open in 2008.
At the same time, University Housing will continue
to make technology and safety improvements, includ-
ing an upgrade of fire alarms in all halls by 2007 and the
installation of fire suppression systems, such as sprin-
klers, by 2011. Such improvements will cost $7 to $10
million each year until improvements are completed.
The new residence hall is not necessarily intended
to alleviate the housing crunch, which was caused by
the marked increase of about 500 extra freshmen. This
year's unexpectedly large freshmen class was a "blip"
and should not happen again, University spokeswoman
Julie Peterson said.
Instead, the new hall will cater to upperclassmen -
but will not be restricted to them, Henry said. Univer-
sity Housing has found that demand by upperclassmen
for on-campus housing is high when their desires are
met: single rooms, apartments and private bathrooms.
Stockwell will be one of the first dorms to undergo renovations.
For some international students, uncertain road toUnited States
By Alexa Jenner
SEPTEMBER 22, 2004
Daily Staff Writer
After completing her undergraduate degree at
Lawrence University in Wisconsin, Wenjie Chen,
an international student from Germany, decided
she wanted to come to Ann Arbor to get her doc-
torate in economics.
Even though she had spent four years studying
in the United States, she still had to go through
the new procedures of applying for a visa. "It's
a long process, and definitely a frustrating one,"
Since the 1800s the University has accepted
international students from around the world, but
with tightening homeland security measures, the
process of coming to America has left many inter-
national students feeling like criminals, Chen said.
In September, the government passed another
law that will affect next years' applicants to the
University. Now, before international or foreign
exchange students can even'apply for a visa they
must pay a $100 Student and Exchange Visitor
Information System fee. The SEVIS fee goes to
the officials who work with the system's electronic
database that track all international scholars in the
The database has become a major part of home-
land security since the Sept. 11 attacks. In 1993,
after the first World Trade Center terrorist attack
involved an international student, the government
created this electronic database to track all inter-
national students entering the United States. But
without sufficient funds, the system was not that
effective. After the Sept. 11 attacks, however, this
system became a requirement for all international
scholars. Now, every international student is in the
system and can constantly be monitored.
Although Chen did not have to pay the new
SEVIS fee, the process of coming to America was
a tiring one. "The first thing I had to do was call for
an appointment at the (U.S.) Embassy. In Germany
you used to just have to send in your information but
now you have to go in for an interview," she said.
Chen had to wait six weeks for her interview with
embassy officials. She said her patience was tested
even further as she arrived at the embassy and was
forced to stand in line for three and a half hours.
"The process takes longer than it should but
the University works with you to get through
it," she said.
Once Chen made it through the waiting process
her interview went smoothly and she received her
visa, but the element of fear did not dissipate there.
At the American airport Chen had her eyes
scanned and her fingers printed. "How would you
feel if you had to go through that? I felt like I was
in prison," she said.
Chen was then put into the electronic database.
"I had 30 days to check in at the University, other-
wise my visa would be terminated, and I'd have to
go through the whole process again," Chen said.
The University is trying its best to make the
transition easier for international students. Kay
Clifford, the associate director at the University's
International Center said, "the process yields a lot
of anxiety, and the admissions office, the student
affairs office, the academic departments and our
federal relations department are all working as a
team to help these students and exchange visitors.
Although students such as Chen did not have
difficulty getting a visa once they went through
the interview process, some must wait three
weeks to a year for their visa to be processed. If
there is something "sensitive" in the interview,
the report is sent to Washington where a security
advisory opinion - essentially a second review
of the student's background - takes place. "It is
hard to say what exactly characterizes something
as 'sensitive,' but often we find that students who
are studying nuclear engineering or an area with
bio in the title are forced to go through this sec-
ondary process," Clifford said.
"Students don't always know if they had to go
through a security advisory opinion. All they know
is that it took days or even months to get a visa,"
Clifford said. Unlike Chen's visa, which will last
her five years, visas issued after the student has
gone through a secondary advisory opinion only
last a year.
"Our aim is to get visas issued in 30 to 60 days,
because that's the biggest stress these students are
dealing with, and we also are working to get the
visas to last for the time needed for the student to
complete his or her studies," Clifford said.
As these struggles have continued to increase,
John Godfrey, the assistant dean of International
Education at Rackham, has begun submitting let-
ters with some of the students' interviews, where
a faculty member from that student's department
explains in depth what the student will be doing
here. The International Center hopes that this will
prevent an unnecessary secondary screening.
"I think the University has done a fantastic job in
letting the students know we're here for them and
we care. It's very supportive in helping these stu-
dents through this process," Clifford said.
A survey by the Council of Graduate Schools
results show that applications from international
graduate students declined by 28 percent from 2003
to 2004 nationwide, while admissions declined 18
percent over the same period, Godfrey said.
"We won't have the final figures until the offi-
cial third week count is completed, but this drop
reflects the problems international students have
been facing with visas," Godfrey said.
Although there was a decrease in the number
of international graduate applicants to the Uni-
versity, the number of undergraduate applications
increased this year, said Cindy Gould, the senior
admissions counselor for undergraduate interna-
For the time being, the University is doing what
it can to help students get through this stressful
process - from providing fact sheets on what an
international student can expect upon arrival to
asking students how the whole procedure was for
them and what needs to be changed.
Although it is hard to say whether the newly
instated SEVIS fee will discourage international
students next year, administrators said they are
confident that the University will continue to offer
their support and services to the international stu-
dents and exchange visitors.
We could have listed all the concerts,
sports events, lectures, publications,
free trips to Israel, theater productions,
social justice projects, alternative spring
break trips to South America and
fun parties we have...
...but we only have one page.
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