Lobo Development officials told ASUNM they hope to drastically increase UNM’s on-campus housing.
Lobo Development Board members Eliseo “Cheo” Torres and Walter Miller spoke to the senators about why they think on-campus housing benefits UNM students during a Sept. 28 ASUNM meeting.
“We have to increase on-campus student housing because studies indicate that students do better if they work and live on campus,” Torres said.
He said his goal is to double the percentage of UNM students living on-campus, which is currently at 10 percent.
But increasing the number of on-campus dorms could change UNM’s demographic, Director of Institutional Research and Support Mark Chisholm said. He said UNM is traditionally a commuter campus, which means the majority of students commute to school and live off campus.
“You can’t just change UNM and make it a residential campus,” Chisholm said. “You can have more residential students, but there is still a need for working people to have a place to go and get a degree.”
Torres said Lobo Development is not only looking to increase the number of students living on campus, but also the services offered to them.
“We will continue appealing to and recruiting the older students and non-traditional students,” Torres said. “So what we want to do will enhance what they are doing. We want to keep the students here, we want to recruit and retain, and hopefully get them to want to stay here for grad school.”
Chisholm said his work includes identifying UNM’s peer institutions, college campuses with a similar demographic to UNM.
He said he has never heard of a university that changed from a commuter campus to a residential campus.
“Because there isn’t another university in Albuquerque, UNM has to fit both roles, and so us having more residential students isn’t a bad thing, but we can’t stop serving the commuter students,” he said.
UNM is in the middle of a three-phase construction plan with American Campus Communities, a private development company based out of Texas. The first phase, Lobo Village, located on south campus, was completed this summer. The ongoing second phase includes tearing down old dorms and constructing new dorms on the northeast side of main campus, which will add approximately 1,000 beds to UNM’s on-campus housing. The third phase is still in planning but could include a new dorm or renovations to Cornell Plaza.
Sunny Liu, ASUNM finance committee chair, said he supports the new construction because it will give students more opportunities to get involved in University programs.
He said some senators don’t support ACC’s integration on campus because ACC hires its own community advisers, which means UNM’s Residence Life would employ fewer students to be Resident Advisers.
“A lot of senators were previous employees at Residence Life and there has been a concern since ACC came to UNM about the integration,” Liu said. “The buildings most people would agree are in need of reparation and amenities are needed. Private management is something that worries a lot of senators, not that they don’t believe it is possible, but they are standing up for a seamless transition.”