In light of decreased undergraduate enrollment, the college expands campus housing options for graduate students.
Starting next semester, the campus apartments located at 705 Michigan St. will house graduate students exclusively. The building, half of the Michigan-Crescent Apartments complex, currently houses undergraduates in 15 four-person units.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said incorrectly that two-thirds of graduate students already live on campus.
The change is part of the new Graduate School Housing Initiative, a plan to house all Wheaton graduate students on campus, according to an email from Housing Services on March 2.
714 graduate students are currently enrolled at Wheaton, only a dozen of whom live on campus. But students and staff in the graduate school have been requesting expanded housing for the past decade, and the requests have only increased over the last five years.
Dean of Residence Life Justin Heth said that an apartment complex for grad students would not have been possible until now due to high demand for undergraduate campus housing. However, a decrease in undergraduate enrollment has opened up more space for graduate students.
Heth said he hopes undergraduate enrollment will return to previous levels. If that happens, he said, the Michigan apartments will become an undergraduate housing option again.
“It’s probably not permanent,” Heth said of the change. “I think we can see this happening for maybe two years based on our enrollment numbers because our priority is wanting to house undergraduate students,” Heth said.
In the March 2 email, Housing Services also announced that 916 College Avenue, which consists of 23 two-person units, will be closed next year due to renovations. Heth said he hopes the renovated building will be a place undergraduates look forward to living in in the coming semesters.
“We’ve pushed off for a couple of years,” Heth told The Record, “but needs to have new flooring, new kitchens and updated bathrooms. It just needs to get done. It’s a long process, and right now is a prime time to do that with our enrollment down a little.”
Two new campus houses near Smith-Traber Hall—The Country House and International House at 631 and 626 Howard St.—will be open to students next fall. The Country House will hold six students, and the International House will hold eight.
Many juniors already live in apartments, but in the email, Housing Services said that with their proposed housing changes and the new houses for seniors, they estimate 30-40 more juniors will be able to live in apartments next year, even without the Michigan St. apartments and 916 College Ave.
Graduate students such as Scott Willis, a second-year master’s student studying historical theology, seem encouraged. Willis believes the initiative will make graduate housing options at Wheaton similar to most other master’s programs across the country that offer housing for students pursuing advanced degrees. He said he supports the initiative because it could help international students that have trouble finding housing off campus.
“They are limited legally with their visas in what they can and cannot do, where they can live, what kind of work they can get, what kind of work their spouses can get. Those are the people the housing is most likely to serve,” Willis said.