A history of student housing at UM-Dearborn

The Fair Lane Apartments, known today as the “CASL Annex” located next to the Child Care Center, once served as campus apartments for students. (Michigan Journal file photo)

BY TROY A. BLEVINS, Webmaster

Year after year, it becomes the buzz of the campus: Will UM-Dearborn ever have on-campus housing like at Ann Arbor?

MORE: Campus Housing coming to University of Michigan-Dearborn

This article includes information from a collection of news stories found within the archives of the Michigan Journal. Although the information dates all the way back to the 1970s, much of what is presented can be related to what is happening on campus today.

What’s revealed in the archives?


New housing plan approved in April

In April 2012, Dearborn City Planning Commission had approved a housing plan for the UM-D.

Scott M. Bowers, President of Bowers & Associates, said in April his company wanted to start construction this past June and be open by August 2013.

The proposed plans included a sand volleyball court, a new student center, an exercise facility, meeting rooms, a theater, and at least 525 beds.

MORE: Dearborn City Planning Approves UM-D Housing Plan


History of campus housing plan

One article found on record in the archives that suggested a change in student housing is dated Wednesday, February 15, 1978, entitled “Housing Plans Shelved – For Awhile.”

“Housing policies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn are being revised, while plans for a new apartment complex have been shelved: at least temporarily,” opens the article.

The article continues, saying “The administration’s official position was outlined in a September, 1977 memo from [former] Chancellor Leonard Goodall, which stated ‘Housing is consistent on a small scale with UM-D’s mission and our current housing should not be eliminated but rather expanded on a modest basis in the future.’”


The Fair Lane Apartments become the CASL Annex

What exactly did happen to campus housing? The Fair Lane Apartments, known today as the “CASL Annex” located next to the Child Care Center, once served as campus apartments for students.

In the article mentioned above, a student said she was happy living in one of the thirty apartments.

“The price is really reasonable,” said the student.“There’s a definite need for housing because the campus is growing. There are no substitute facilities in the area. Where would we go?”

For years, the CASL Annex also housed international students that wished to live close to the campus, which made UM-D a lucrative option.

There were a number of issues, however, that plagued the CASL Annex, much like any other dorm-like experience.

According to the article, many of the occupants had complaints about paint in the bedroom, non-working garbage disposals, cracked windows, and even the furniture being too big for the rooms.

A 2004 inspection of the CASL Annex found levels of asbestos that exceeded federal and state standards.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Asbestos Inspection Report for the CASL Annex Building (Aug 2004)

The CASL Annex today (Troy A. Blevins / MJ)

A housing committee was chosen in early 2000, according to a Michigan Journal article dated January 11, 2000, to research the possibility of student housing on campus.

At a Student Government Town Hall meeting that took place on January 12, 2000, many of the students that attended were interested in student housing. However, many of the students did “not think it was necessary.”

For a number of years, the CASL Annex contained facility offices for a women’s resource center, sociology and health policy studies.

“We phased out the student apartments because we felt the space was needed for other things, and they weren’t contributing to the overall experience,” said Dr. McKinley, former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs in an article dated February 1, 2000. “There is an aspect to this campus that is based in terms of being accessible and affordable, that a residential college does not offer.”

In February 2012, UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little said the long-closed CASL Annex “will be brought down in the next couple of years.”

MORE: Chancellor Little Speaks On Inclusion, Tuition Dollars


Student survey of on-campus housing takes place

A Michigan Journal article entitled “Consulting report adds to university’s decision toward housing,” published April 15, 2008, said Brailsford & Dunlavey (B&D), the consulting firm that was called in to survey UM-D’s student population about the perspective popularity of student housing, delivered their final report to UM-D in March that year.

The most important factors then relate to similar considerations today:

  1. How much will on-campus housing cost to students?
  2. Is on-campus housing something students want?
  3. What space will be used and how close will it be to the campus?

“We began the project with the intention of definitively finding out how housing at UM-D would become a strategic asset,” said B&D associate Kim Martin in the article.

In documents obtained by the Michigan Journal, the report says their 2008 plan “varied slightly” from the plan originally brought forth in 2002.

B&D’s plan also took into consideration market and financial analysis, along with a phasing strategy for the “development of new housing facilities on campus.”

At the time, UM-D administration hadn’t made a final decision regarding student housing, according to the article, but the report’s findings were a firm step in the direction to a decision.

“No matter what, this is going to be transformational for our campus,” said UM-D Chancellor Daniel Little in the article.


What the 2008 survey revealed

2,127 student surveys were completed for B&D’s survey analysis, which represented 21% of UM-D students. The report says the margin of error is +/- 2.14 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

At the time the survey was conducted, 8,130 students were enrolled at the university. Compare this to the 9,100 students that will attend UM-D during the 2012-2013 academic school year, the university’s highest population ever.

MORE: Fall semester kicks off with Welcome Week

In the survey, 84 percent of admitted students not attending UM-D agreed that “the lack of student housing options influenced their choice to attend a different school.” For students attending UM-D at the time, 74 percent were interested in on-campus housing, with 65 percent expressing interest in off-campus housing.

Studies have shown, according to the report, that “students who live in student housing have higher GPA’s, develop stronger ties with the University and form better communication with their peers.”


The top five most requested housing features, according to the report, were:

  1. Kitchen
  2. Private Bathroom
  3. Air-Conditioning
  4. Laundry in unit
  5. Private Bedroom

For those preferring to live off-campus, most students wanted to live in a Downtown West Dearborn location over a Fairlane Town Center site. Ninety-three percent of students felt that student housing would “improve the quality of life at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.”

The report also contained quotes from students who participated in the surveys. “Although I personally would not be interested in student housing due to my full-time work schedule and near completion of my graduate degree, I think it is an excellent option. I wish this was available when I was an undergraduate full-time student, working on campus,” commented one student.

Prospective students echoed the feelings. “I feel that on-campus housing for UM-Dearborn will attract more students to the university and possibly attract some students away from the school in Ann Arbor, because UM-Dearborn is so much more open and nicer to prospective students during decision time; housing is a very big factor that draws students away from Dearborn,” said another prospective student.


Will housing affect safety of students?

Without a doubt, students and parents will be concerned about whether or not campus housing is a safe option. In 2011, however, there were zero major crimes reported on the UM-Dearborn campus.

As a result of the low crime rate, StateUniversity.com named UM-D as the third safest university in Michigan for 2011.

There were zero reports of vehicle theft on campus. This figure is down from a decade-long average of six incidents per year. Larcenies have also remained at a consistently low average.

MORE: UM-Dearborn ranked 3rd safest university in the state


Concluding thoughts

What this article reveals is that everyone on campus, prospective students, parents, and graduates are affected by this new housing plan.

By looking to the past, along with reviewing student surveys, the University has the resources answer to any questions that may lie ahead. This is also the most important aspect of on-campus housing: The students.

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