A new residence hall is on the horizon for North Dakota State.
The university is seeking state authorization to build the new hall, potentially set to be constructed west of Pavek and Seim halls for between $35-39 million, said Rian Nostrum, Residence Life director. The project is meant to better serve sophomores searching for campus housing, students who are often squashed by first-year students guaranteed housing and upperclassmen who have priority.
“We’re not serving our sophomores as best as we’re serving the other populations,” Nostrum said.
Two potential sites have been identified for the new residence hall, Nostrum said.
An initial site looked at the space south of Pavek near two volleyball courts.
“When you look at it, it’s actually pretty large piece of space,” Nostrum said, but preprogramming drew interest to a second site west of Pavek and Seim halls, near a basketball court.
“You could really clean that side up and put a building there,” Nostrum said, adding cost efficiencies in chillers are a plus. Chillers are basically large air conditioning units, Nostrum added.
Building on the second site would also allow for “a mini Churchill Field,” Nostrum said, as green space could be added by taking out the crisscrossing sidewalks behind the high rises.
Another plus in the building a fifth residence hall would be to continue a tunnel meant to go to an intended fifth high rise, Nostrum said, proposed in the original master plan of building Seim, Sevrinson, Pavek and Thompson decades ago.
Wherever the new hall goes, it would not take out residential parking, Nostrum said.
A new hall would likely not be a narrow tower like the four high rises, but a rectangular building taller than Reed.
A bed count would range from 300 to 450, Nostrum said. The building would also be suite-style.
The higher bed count would bring an ultimate price tag of between $35-39 million, Nostrum said.
Should the state board of higher education approve the plan this summer, it would forwarded to the legislative board by July, and likely be approved by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in March or April 2017, Nostrum said.
While debated in the legislature, NDSU would bid the project to break ground in summer 2017 with a two-year construction cycle and a fall 2019 completion date, Nostrum said.
For the sophomores
NDSU students are guaranteed housing in their first year at school. A boom in first-year housing has happened in the past decade, when in 2008, up to 500 freshmen were living in motels and overflow housing, Nostrum said.
From there, ResLife made more residence halls into first-year housing only while cordoning certain halls for only upperclassmen, such as Pavek.
“Before 2008, the only halls that were 100 percent freshmen was Reed, Johnson and Weible,” Nostrum said. “Churchill, Burgum, Dinan: all those were mixed.”
Eventually, all the low rise residence halls were set aside for freshmen, while the Mathew Living Learning Center, Pavek and Niskanen halls were essentially the only buildings left for upperclassmen’s housing.
Meanwhile, ResLife’s reconstructing process somewhat squeezed sophomores, Nostrum said, as incoming freshmen are guaranteed housing and upperclassmen take priority in choosing beds.
“The longer you’ve been with us, the better your number,” Nostrum said. “The freshmen going to be sophomores have the worst number.”
Many sophomores find themselves waitlisted, Nostrum said, anywhere from 150-300 students. A lot of those waitlisted then “get antsy,” Nostrum said, and seek housing elsewhere, shrinking the waitlist.
Nostrum added that those with enough “risk tolerance” generally come through on the housing waitlist, which historically produces housing, albeit for those who don’t take themselves off.
“We don’t know how many of our current freshmen going into their sophomore year that don’t even bother anymore because it’s been enough years where sophomores are not able to pick a room at room signup,” Nostrum said.