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Addition to Banfield Hall at UAS Student Housing Update

The Chancellor’s cabinet has put together the following list of important points for letter writers.

The Legislature has approved $4 million in General Funds for the UAS Banfield Hall dormitory addition in the Capital Budget. (Total cost: $8,750,000). The Capital Budget is now under consideration by Governor Parnell.  Chancellor Pugh requests your support for the UAS Addition to Banfield Hall at Student Housing, by means of a letter-writing campaign to the governor.  The Chancellor’s cabinet has put together the following list of important points for letter writers:

UAS's recruitment efforts target Alaskan students. The majority of the 60 new beds in Banfield Hall will be occupied by students from all over Alaska.  Many of these students will be from rural villages, but it is useful to note that a growing number are coming from Anchorage and communities along the Rail Belt.  During this past academic year, 36 Alaskan communities had students residing in Banfield Hall. 

With the passage of funding for the Governor’s Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS), the UAS freshman student-body from outside Juneau is anticipated to increase substantially due to APS. High achieving students with APS will expect a supportive campus life program, including freshman housing.

Finding safe, suitable and affordable housing is a basic need of freshman students from outside Juneau. Parents from outside Juneau are very reluctant to send their freshman to UAS without a commitment for housing.  In the fall 2010 semester, in order to accommodate as many freshmen as possible, every available space was used. 

Without this addition, UAS Juneau's full time enrollment of students from outside the Juneau community will be capped.  There simply are not enough affordable apartments in the community available to meet the housing demand for an increased population of university students. In addition, freshman students have unique needs for housing that have not been met in private housing.

Freshman students who do not live on campus are much less likely to take advantage of university social programs and academic support services. Once students leave campus for the day, they do not come back for evening programs or other opportunities to build strong personal connections to their classmates. They miss the connection to the university, its social life and support programs, and are less likely to stay at UAS and complete their education.

The proposed addition includes rooms specifically for academic support services like tutoring, advising and, even provide space for freshman level classes that could be taught there. The idea is to bring academics into the student's living space. The addition will be more than just a place to sleep, but will also be a place where students can receive help in their classes, meet with their academic advisor, even take a class.

The 15-20 minute walk to the Mourant Cafeteria on the main campus has always proved to be difficult for young students. The ice and snow in the winter as well as the darkness and, of course the rain, have caused hardship for students to get to their evening meal and often times breakfast. Freshmen are more likely to skip a meal than to make the trek to campus to eat.

Student success research on freshman retention indicates that the social aspect to sitting down to a meal with friends is a positive factor in retention from freshman to sophomore. The day’s activities can be shared, future activities planned, and more importantly, mutual support provided in particularly stressful times like mid-term and final exam weeks.  All of these factors influence retention and completion.

Many colleges and universities use their food service programs as a focal point of social events for students. At UAS this is difficult because of the distance between food service and the residence hall. Students are less likely to attend evening social events in the cafeteria because it is not convenient.

As long as the residence hall is full and food service is a 15-20 minute walk away, students will be more likely to look elsewhere for their education.


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