BLOOMINGTON — The on-campus student apartments at Illinois Wesleyan University won’t open until next fall, but 95 of their 96 spaces are filled.
Karla Carney-Hall, IWU’s vice president of student affairs and dean of students, attributed the response to the newness and the location.
Students also find the option attractive, she said, because the flexibility of off-campus living means no required meal plan, while retaining campus security and university maintenance. The buildings will have live-in managers.
Called “The Gates at Wesleyan,” the $6.5 million project on the southeast edge of campus consists of two, three-story buildings on the north side of Empire Street, between Evans and McLean streets.
Construction is on schedule, Carney-Hall said, noting that all the windows are in.
The apartments are for juniors and seniors. About 500 currently live off campus, according to the university.
Students will pay $3,850 per semester, not including optional meal plans. The apartments are funded by a mix of student room rates and donor contributions.
Each unit will consist of four private rooms with a shared kitchen and living room, and separate shower and toilet areas.
University leaders ventured into apartment-style housing to give students another option, but also see a way to improve student involvement.
When students live more than a mile from campus, they are less likely come back for evening events or student organization meetings, President Dick Wilson said.
“They can be providing leadership on campus,” Wilson said. “We’re hopeful this will have the impact of keeping those students engaged.”
Hand in hand with the apartment project, the university has been working with its food service contractor, Sodexo, to redo the Dugout food court in the Memorial Center, Carney-Hall said.
The university also will institute a five-meals-a week option next fall, which could be attractive to the student apartment dwellers, she said.
In addition to the Dugout food court, the option would be used at Tommy’s Grill in the Hansen Student Center and Bertholf Commons, a traditional cafeteria in the Memorial Center.
Some nearby residents expressed opposition to the project at rezoning hearings in April. The Bloomington Planning Commission recommended approval after the university designated additional parking spaces in a lot at Park and Empire streets for students living in the buildings. The City Council approved the rezoning.