By Evi Arthur
Roosevelt’s Office of Residence Life recently announced that the Wabash building would be opening up to house students from Robert Morris University. First referred to as a “merger,” this collaboration would consist of Robert Morris contracting two and a half floors on the Wabash building through a masterlease.
This move was an effort by Residence Life to begin fixing the debt gain from constructing the Wabash building in 2012, roughly $12 million.
“We are at a bit of a financial struggle at the institution, and trying to get out of the deficit and so we currently have about 135 empty beds in the residence halls and that’s over a million dollars in revenue for the university,” said Jamar Orr, the assistant provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
According to Orr, the Wabash building has not been at full capacity since the second year it was opened. Every year since then, there have been vacancies.
There have been significant attempts in recent years to increase enrollment and bring in more money to the residence halls and, according to President Malekzadeh’s State of the University Address last semester, 98 percent of enrollment goals have been met. Despite this, there is still a significant number of empty beds in the Wabash building that need to be filled.
“I’ve literally been working on this for a year and a half, trying to find a school to take these additional beds,” Orr said. “We want to make sure that we are attempting as best we can to get that revenue so that we can better serve our students, so that we can better serve the institution.”
Starting in July and continuing through the semester, Robert Morris students will have two floors to themselves and will share half of a floor with Roosevelt students. The RMU floors will be overseen by resident advisers who are Robert Morris students and the mixed floor will be overseen by a Roosevelt resident adviser.
“They will go through our RA selection process, they will go through our RA training program, they will be a part of our res life team, but they will be RMU students, cause it’s really important that they feel connected to their institution,” Orr said.
RMU students living in the Wabash building will not be able to hold on-campus jobs or participate in governing organizations, such as SAFAC, SGA, or SPEED. The only exception to this is the Wabash Community Council (WCC), which Robert Morris students are welcome to join. The RMU students would also be able to participate in on-campus events sponsored by the school and join non-governing student organizations on-campus such as Black Student Union.
At this time, there are no Robert Morris students signed up, but there has been interest in a few to see the building and looking for more information.
At this time, university officials are confident that this contract with Robert Morris will be the push the university needs to fill all of the empty beds in Wabash.
“If our housing numbers stay where they are, with our roosevelt students and then we add in the RMU students, we’re almost at 100 percent capacity,” Orr said.
If the school is able to reach a certain capacity, the offices that currently take up the 16 through the 19 floors will be moved somewhere else and those offices will be converted back into dorm rooms to accommodate more students.
“The plan was never for those floors to be there forever, the plan was to grow enrollment and to return those to the residence halls as they were intended to be,” Orr said. “I hope that we get to a space where that is something that we are able to do.”