Archive for Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Design fosters togetherness at KU’s newly opened Oswald and Self halls

$48.6 million dorms are completely full for fall semester

A student lounge inside Daisy Hill Commons.

A student lounge inside Daisy Hill Commons.

August 19, 2015


Kansas University’s newest residence halls aim to bring students together — between floors, between adjoining halls and even between other halls on Daisy Hill.

The just-opened Oswald and Self halls are connected by the two-story Daisy Hill Commons, open to all residents on the hill.

“This was intentionally designed for first-year students,” KU Student Housing director Diana Robertson said, “for their academic success, for their community development, for their engagement in campus life.”

Except for some finishing touches and landscaping, the $48.6 million bond-funded Oswald/Self construction project is complete. The big move-in day is Thursday, though resident assistants and some select students already are at home there this week.

The two halls — Oswald on the south and Self on the north, both named for KU benefactors — are mirror images and house 350 students each, Robertson said. She said both halls are completely full.

Here’s what the Journal-World saw on a tour of the new dorms on Tuesday.

The rooms

Each hall has five floors with two wings apiece, one for women and one for men. There’s a laundry room on every floor of each dorm, and high ceilings, interior balconies and open lounge areas.

There are three room layouts — each considerably more spacious than dorm rooms and even suites of old, and each with its own bathroom. Instead of one-over-the-other bunk beds, all students get their own bunk bed with loft space underneath for a couch, desk or whatever they’d like to put there.

Layout options are a four-person suite with a living room (60 rooms, holding 240 people), a two-person with a shared bedroom (180 rooms, 360 people) and a two-person with private rooms for each resident (40 rooms, 80 people)— a new layout not offered in any other KU residence halls. Robertson said market analysis indicated a desire among some students for private rooms.

Only the four-person suite has a living room, forcing students in the two-person rooms out into the commons to mingle.

At $7,100 per year or $9,230 per year for a private-room suite, Oswald and Self are now the most expensive residence halls on campus, Robertson said.

This two-person suite with private bedrooms and a shared bathroom, not pictured, is one of the options in KU's Self and Oswald residence halls.

This two-person suite with private bedrooms and a shared bathroom, not pictured, is one of the options in KU's Self and Oswald residence halls. by Nick Krug

The commons, first floor

In addition to almost entirely glass walls overlooking either side of Daisy Hill, the commons has a large living room, digital piano, recreation room with ping-pong and pool tables, and a full kitchen for students to use.

There’s also a full-size display dorm room for prospective students to tour and a touch-screen television display for them to scroll through photos and layouts of rooms in other KU dorms.

None by Sara Shepherd

The commons, second floor

The second floor of the commons is what KU calls the academic service center.

There’s a full-size classroom where, among other things, University 101 classes will be held, and five conference rooms, each named for a prestigious scholarship available to KU students.

The KU IT service desk moved from Burge Union to the commons. The KU Association of University Residence Halls office is there, too.

None by Sara Shepherd


Grass, patios and sitting-walls have replaced the road that once ran in front of Lewis — home to Mrs. E’s, the Daisy Hill cafeteria — and Hashinger halls.

The road now runs on the west side of Daisy Hill, with a sidewalk to access it running right under the new building.

KU senior Aaron Gunkel, a resident assistant on the fourth floor of Oswald, said without having to trek across parking lots and roads as before, students might be more likely to move between the new and old residence halls.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more interaction,” he said. “This is going to bring all the halls together.”

Traffic delays Thursday

Drivers should avoid the area of Daisy Hill on Thursday, the primary move-in day for Kansas University freshmen.

Traffic congestion is expected to be heaviest from about 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. around 15th and Iowa streets, 15th and Crestline Drive and 19th and Iowa streets, according to a KU announcement.

Heavy traffic also is expected around Oliver Hall at 19th and Naismith Drive, as well as GSP and Corbin halls at 11th and Louisiana streets.

West Campus employees can park in their regular lots, but Becker Road will be open to local traffic only from Crestline to Constant Avenue.

Contact KU and higher ed reporter Sara Shepherd
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Clara Westphal 2 years, 8 months ago

When will Jayhawk Blvd. be closed to traffic?

Sara Shepherd 2 years, 8 months ago

Clara, I believe it closes on Monday, Aug. 24, the day fall classes begin. It's still open to drive-through traffic this week. - Sara Shepherd

Adrienne Sanders 2 years, 8 months ago

Huh, I always thought dorms would be cheaper or at least not as expensive as apartments.... but my two bedroom apartment is significantly cheaper than that. (Assuming it doesn't include a dining plan in the cost listed.)

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

school loans might be picking up the bills .... whoaaaaaaa.


Both rely on a financial innovation called “asset-backed securitization” to raise capital and to hedge risk—in other words, to raise money for loans and to reduce the likelihood that investors will lose their money. Student loans asset-backed securitization—or SLABS—means student loan agencies package student debts and sell them to investors who expect to get their money back, plus interest, as students pay back their loans.

In theory, selling off nicely bundled packages of debt to investors allows these institutions to turn around more quickly and make new loans. For this reason, SLABS is touted as the main channel through which the lending industry moves funds from investors to students—and so is supposed to be of mutual benefit to students, lenders, and institutional investors such as hedge funds and pension funds.

Poor job prospects, as well as mounting costs of basic needs such as health care and housing, mean many college graduates have not been earning enough to pay back their loans. Default rates on student loans have been climbing since 2003.

By 2012, student loans registered the worst delinquency rates in consumer credit, worse than even mortgage debts and credit cards.

Despite the uneasy relationship between the profitable student loan industry and growing student debt defaults, students continue to borrow to pay for college, and educational loans are the only form of consumer debt to increase markedly since 2008. T

To understand the growth of this risky business, we need to first grasp the basic alliance between government and finance in the profitable world of student debt.

The report argues that risky lending practices tied to private student loans have not only increased more rapidly than public student loans over the past decade, but have also come to share many similarities to the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis.

Private lenders (banks) issued loans without considering whether borrowers would be able to repay, then securitized the loans and sold them to investors to avoid losses when students defaulted.

According to the report, there have been more than 850,000 defaults in private loans since the 2007 crisis, exceeding a total value of $8.1 billion.

There is the lack of proper financial education for students and their families. Public student loans have lower interest rates and better consumer protection clauses than private loans, suggesting that people who are taking out private loans are unaware that better terms are available.

Then there is greed, fuelled by institutional investor appetite for SLABS. Aggressive lending practices, which lie at the heart of this private lending growth, prompted the Secretary of Education to argue that subprime lending has moved from the housing market to colleges.

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