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August 25, 2009
By Skyler Dillon
The University of Nevada, Reno is closing its Juniper and Manzanita residence halls for the fall semester. Director of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services Rod Aeschlimann says the downturn is the result of a shift in the demographics of applicants, including a decrease in freshman housing applications, and is not due to fewer students wanting to live on campus.
“From the parents we’ve talked to, it seems that more students are choosing to go to college closer to home because of the economy, so we are getting more applicants from the Washoe County area rather than from Las Vegas or from out of state,” he explained. “Traditionally, most of our housing applications come from students living far from home, and we just don’t have as many of those this year.”
Despite the lower number of freshman residence hall requests, the University has received an increase in housing applications from upperclassmen. Nevada offers residence halls designed particularly for returning students, and Aeschlimann says that is partly responsible for the surge in housing applications from upperclassmen this year.
“We have two living environments on campus that specifically fit upperclassmen needs,” he said. “Sierra Hall is very private, and Canada Hall has kitchens and other conveniences that returning students like to have, so those are the dorms they usually request.”
The combination of fuller Sierra and Canada Halls and fewer freshmen in the other residence halls led to the closing of Manzanita and Juniper, which together can hold about 150 students. However, the total number of students living on campus this year is not far off from the average of 1,732 each year since Aug. 2003. So far this year 1,722 students are living on campus.
In anticipation of continued enrollment increases, the University plans to reopen Manzanita and Juniper next fall. The halls will open for the coming spring semester if there is a need.
“It’s very unlikely that we will see a big enough increase of applicants between the fall and spring semesters to need to reopen them then,” said Aeschlimann. “But we have not and will not turn any students away.”
In the meantime, the closed residence halls might be rented to student or educational groups during the school year.
“It’s a possibility,” said Aeschlimann. “However, we would be sure to rent only to educational or university-style groups.”
The closing of the halls will reduce University expenses by a predicted $250,000. Although the decision to close them was not related to state budget cuts, Aeschlimann says it’s important to decrease costs whenever possible.
“It just makes common sense,” he said.