More Students Housed at Chattanooga Choo Choo

By the Loop Staff

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) — The head of student housing for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga says the campus will be filled to overflowing.

Steven Hood, Vice-Chancellor for Student Housing, said in an email sent campus wide that his staff originally anticipated that 100 students would be housed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo because the dorms would be full. Now Hood estimates that number will be nearly double with half of the students staying at the Choo Choo for entire fall semester.

Here is the email:

Good Afternoon UTC Faculty and Staff,
As we quickly approach the beginning of fall semester, it seems appropriate to share with you all the status of campus housing.  Just as we have experienced for the last few years, the demand for on-campus housing is exceeding supply, which is leading us to utilize the Chattanooga Choo Choo for overflow housing.
We have known for a while that we would need to use a hotel and we were hoping to keep the number of students assigned to the hotel to around 100.  We know from historical records that 100 students in the hotel will be a temporary situation, which is why we were targeting this number.  We have tried a number of strategies to keep the number at 100, including requiring approximately 120 returning students that were on the waitlist to secure off campus housing and offering incentives for Chattanooga area residents to defer their on campus experience to Spring 2012.  While these efforts and others have helped us deal with the high demand, we will not be able to hit the target of 100 students in the hotel, so instead we are now expecting to have 190 students in the hotel (this is the maximum number that the hotel can accommodate).  As we move to 190 students in the hotel, it is important to understand that approximately 1/2 of these students will remain in the hotel all of the fall semester.

As the growth to 190 students in the hotel became an obvious need, we have enhanced our hotel staffing to maximize the support for these students. The hotel residents will be supported with a staffing structure that is similar to others on campus housing with 1 Graduate Assistant serving as a Resident Director and 3 Resident Assistants.  The GA and RA’s will live on site at the hotel to provide 24 hour support.  In addition, we will also have 1 professional staff member dedicated to work 1/2 time in an office that we will operate out of one of the hotel rooms.  While each of these staff members will have different roles, their unified goal is to provide the best possible experience to all hotel residents.  In addition to the staff, the hotel residents will have access to a shuttle that runs from the Chattanooga Choo Choo to campus approximately 90 hours per week.  The hotel residents will also have access to numerous amenities that are available to all hotel guests.

If you would like more information about how we are handling the overflow housing, please feel free to visit the two below web links.

Housing Demographics as of 8/8/11
Group Hotel All Campus Housing Compared to All Campus Housing for Fall 2010
First Time Freshmen 115 1728 213
Transfer Students 39 130 9
Returning Upperclass Students 32 1280 -159
In addition to this important overall housing update, I should also share that as in years past, we work with a number of early arrival groups that have a need to be here before the official move-in day.  This year is no different, in fact, you may have already noticed some groups here already.  We expect to have between 400 and 500 residents on campus before the August 18th move-in day.  If you have any questions about the various early arrival groups, please feel free to contact our office.
Steven Hood
Steven Hood, Ed.D.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Housing
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

UTC Housing After the Students Are Gone

By: Alan Denton

Chattanooga, Tenn. (UTC/ The Loop)—For most students, summer begins after their last final is completed, but students who live on campus have one last deadline to meet. All must be checked out of the dorms by May 6 at noon unless you are graduating or a currently competing athlete.

Steven Hood, the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Housing, said that the deadline is in the best interest of the students and institution. “Because we are an educational institution,” said Hood, “and when classes aren’t going on, you have idle minds, with nothing to do, things can tend to go wrong. We want to try and avoid that both for the institution and for the students. We recognize that some may perceive it as rigid and inflexible but there is good reason for it.”

The 5000 Building On UTC's South Campus

This could pose as a potential problem for students who don’t live close enough to come back for their graduating friends, but for most, coming back would be a simple inconvenience.

Lauren Griffin, a freshman from Cleveland, Tenn., said “I really am not effected by the move out date just because I don’t live too far away. So it’s not a problem for me to just come back for graduation.”

According to a March 2010 UTC document, 34 percent of the undergraduates live in campus housing as compared to Knoxville’s 26 percent and MTSU’s 12 percent. More than half of the student population comes from outside the immediate Chattanooga area with all but two of Tennessee’s 95 counties represented in the 2010 school year, the document says.

The month of May is the only time housing has the liberty to get projects finished without some of the thousands of visitors that roll through campus in June and July being here, according to Hood. The only exception is summer school housing in Walker Apartments, changing from the UC Foundation building that has housed summer students since it opened six years ago.

As of Monday, April 25, housing had 80 students ranging from people taking summer classes to the softball, golf, and cross-country team signed up for the first session Hood said.

Hood said there are three main projects for housing to be completed by this fall other than touch-up painting. Lockmiller will undergo Phase 2 remodeling, which means there will be cosmetic renovations (new carpet, new light fixtures, painting the walls and kitchen cabinets) done to the apartments to the left of the sand volleyball courts.

UTC's North Campus Between Johnson-Obear and Boling

Locks will be changed in Guerry and UC Foundation for the first time since the university took over south campus. Thus far, UTC has changed three of the five buildings’ locks, including Walker Apartments over Christmas break. In May Guerry will be switched, and UC Foundation will be covered in August.

The most expensive project will be to continue to broaden the wireless coverage in campus housing. “In South Campus and in North Campus, we are expanding our wireless infrastructure,” Hood said. “All of Lockmiller will have it. All of Decosimo will have it and part of Johnson-Obear will. We are frankly behind the rest of the state in providing wireless in campus housing. That’s about a $100,000 investment in North and South Campus. And that will have about a third of campus housing to have wireless internet as a result of that including the other parts of campus that already had it.”

Click here for Steven Hood telling about the expansion of wireless internet in campus housing

After the last camp has checked out in a specific building typically at the middle or end of July, the maintenance men change gears to prepping for the fall, according to Hood. Boling Apartments is one of the first buildings given attention to due to the football players moving in for fall camp and Stophel Apartments will be one of the last because it is used for summer orientations.

Hood said that 75 percent of the camps are finished by the beginning of July, which means rooms will be closed up. This poses a problem for housing because of the high summer humidity that creates mold.

In Boling Apartments, some students were greeted with commercial grade dehumidifiers when they arrived in August 2010 but didn’t allow it to hinder them. Griffin said, “As an incoming freshman, I was confused why it was all there. But we didn’t let it bother us. We just moved them out to the front porch, so we had room to move in all of our stuff.”

Click here for Lauren Griffin talking about her experience with the large dehumidifiers

Hood doesn’t know if housing will pursue the state contracting company again to rent the mostly preventative equipment. The possibility still stands that UTC may purchase their own commercial grade dehumidifiers.

“We are looking at our end-of-the-year budget to make some decisions on that,” Hood said.