UWM Addresses Neighborhood Issues
This was the second of four neighborhood meetings to discuss the proposed UWM resident hall. UWM has been working to increase the number of beds available in a large part because 90% of the students that apply to UWM request student housing and most are turned down. This ability to provide housing for students is important because the retention rate of students living in resident halls is 15% higher than those living off campus. Further, Tom Luljak, Vice Chancellor of University Relations and Communications, explained that another goal is to move students from living in the neighborhood, to students living in student housing. He pointed to the opening of the RiverView resident hall as example of success as their research indicates there are now 300 fewer students living in the neighborhood than there was prior to the opening.
UWM brought a large contingent of staff, UWM Police officers, student C.O.A.S.T. workers, and S.A.F.E. walkers to inform the neighborhood residents of how they handle safety and security issues. They emphasized that UWM resident halls are a controlled environment, that provide an opportunity for students to succeed. Additionally, for safety and security reasons these resident halls include someone working the front desk 24 hours a day, and require guest passes for non-residents to access the building.
Two students from UWM’s S.A.F.E. walker program spoke about their efforts to help improve safety in the neighborhood. This program consists of 25 students who work primarily from 10 PM to 2 AM six days a week to provide security, medical care, and act as trained observers. Additionally, they explained that when the new resident hall opens it will be expanded to include North Avenue.
Only a handful of residents were in attendance, but the one concern that was brought up revolved around student parking. The owner of Judges (located across the street from the Hometown site) was somewhat concerned that the students would have enough parking so they wouldn’t park on the bridge impacting his customer’s parking. His concerns appeared to be addressed by the plan and previous experience with the RiverView dorm because as he said, “you wouldn’t even know that RiverView was open.”
The continued decline in public attendance at these meetings is a telling sign that UWM has put forth significant effort to inform the community on all aspects of this project.