Graduate residents booted in effort to house more undergraduates

Residential Services is asking graduate students living in 15 townhouses on McCart Avenue to move out and allow undergraduate students to take their place, a university official said.

Craig Allen, director of Residential Services, said that 16 townhouses housing 32 people on Sandage Avenue were converted from graduate to undergraduate housing last year. Juniors and seniors occupy those townhouses now, he said.

“Our first and foremost priority is undergraduate student housing,” Allen said.

The second phase is converting the McCart Avenue graduate housing to undergraduate housing, Allen said. In the fall of 2007, Residential Services first warned graduate students living in the McCart townhouses that they may have to move out in May 2009, he said.

Now, graduate students won’t be required to move out until July 2010, and other resources have been offered to them, Allen said.

“In our ideal scenario we will move that back to graduate housing in a few years when we get through this construction and renovation period and we have enough housing from undergraduate students,” Allen said.

According to the Residential Services Web site, the Brite Divinity School apartment complex Leibrock Village, the GrandMarc at Westberry Place and a leasing service have been recommended for graduate students to find housing.

Some graduate students, who already moved once from the Sandage Avenue to McCart Avenue housing with only five weeks notice, now must move again, according to the minutes for the Oct. 22 Graduate Student Senate meeting.

Allen said Residential Services started giving notice of a possible move last fall through letters, e-mails and door-to-door visits.

“We have been very upfront about this situation for quite some time,” Allen said.

Ryan Rich, a physics doctorate student and McCart resident, said the first announcement explained TCU’s commitment to becoming a “residential college,” which he said is not applicable to graduate students. Rich said he has lived in graduate housing for two and a half years and found out in the spring that he would have to move.

Rich said students never got definite answers about the reasoning for losing their housing, and said the announcement stated students would simply be “reassigned.”

“The residential staff has evidently established their priorities, and graduate students did not make that list,” Rich said.

Rich said many graduate students face the inconvenience of having to move spouses and children as well. He said he applauds the university’s effort to increase student involvement by requiring more students to live on campus, adding, however, that this should not be accomplished by evicting current residents from their homes of several years.

“Living within walking distance of the physics lab is crucial to my research,” Rich said. “Many experiments last many hours, and I am often walking to the lab late at night to turn off a machine or change a sample.”

Allen said sophomores do not have the same independence a graduate student has, and those students need to be taken care of.

“Right now, Sherley Hall is closed – that’s over 300 beds,” Allen said. “Next year, Milton Daniel Hall will be closed. Until we finish those renovations, we are always going to be a little bit tight on space.”