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Campus housing evolving

Portland State University’s housing contract with College Housing Northwest (CHNW) expires at the end of June, and the university is currently in negotiations with CHNW, which will change the dynamics of campus housing.

Initially, PSU put out a request for proposals, seeking new proposals for housing contracts with other companies.

CHNW was the only company to follow through in the proposal process. While contract negotiations are still on going, PSU will be writing up a contract with CHNW.

Cathy Dyck, vice president of finance and administration, said that CHNW and PSU are working toward a finalized transition plan, but “nothing is set in stone.”

In the immediate future, CHNW will still manage the buildings that PSU owns, but it is working toward making PSU in charge of everything.

Dyck asserted that such a drastic transition is years away.

For now, PSU will be taking over and expanding the residence life program to help increase student retention and create a tighter community connection for students who wish to participate.

PSU also has several short- and long-term plans regarding the Ondine building.

For next year, PSU will be eliminating the New Student Program (NSP), currently housed on the seventh floor of the Ondine. It plans to add that floor to the Freshmen Year Experience (FYE) program.

Dyck said that the university eventually may convert the Ondine to traditional student housing in order to serve the needs of incoming students.

Currently, however, the only actual change that will be made to the Ondine building is the conversion of the seventh floor from the NSP to the FYE program.

Director of housing operations at CHNW Dennis McCauliff said, regarding the Ondine, “No definitive decisions have been made.”

McCauliff and Dyck both confirmed that there will be no major decisions about the Ondine made in the next year.

Despite these assurances, ASPSU Sen. Dimitris Desyllas is worried students have not been given enough information or enough say in the changes occurring in student housing.

If the Ondine is converted to traditional housing, Desyllas says that some of the cheapest campus housing will be limited to freshmen and out-of-state students.

“It limits students’ possibility to afford housing,” Desyllas said.

Desyllas also feels that the changes PSU has suggested for the residence-life program come at an inappropriate time because some plans include adding new positions while the university is facing a tight budget cut.

Desyllas brought his concerns regarding these changes to student housing before the ASPSU senate last November and was given permission to create a student housing committee.

Recently, Desyllas distributed an “ASPSU Student Senate Survey” to the residents of the Ondine. Some of the questions on the survey referenced the possibility of turning the building into traditional dormitory-style housing.

One question read, “Are you aware of the possibility that you may have to vacate the Ondine on July 1, 2003, due to the proposed changes?”

McCauliff said he received phone calls and e-mails from dozens of Ondine residents, wanting to know what the survey was all about.

McCauliff wrote a letter to the Ondine residents in early March, responding to concerns raised by the survey. He assured that “no current Ondine residents will be displaced as a result of this change (seventh floor changing from NSP to FYE program).”

The changes are being made in conjunction with the addition of the new Epler Building this fall, and the Broadway housing project, opening fall 2004.