Incentive programs aim to retain University Housing residents

University+Housings+newest+residence+hall%2C+Wassaja%2C+boasts+modern+interiors.

The Daily Illini File Photo

University Housing’s newest residence hall, Wassaja, boasts modern interiors.

By Leon Li, Staff Writer

With a steady decrease in residence hall retention rates, University Housing is employing new strategies to show its value and encourage residents to stay for another year.

One such program is the hall council incentive which challenged residence halls to compete for the highest percentage of returning contracts signed in the month of February.

Allen Hall won with a 4.39 percent increase in returning contracts. Shelden Hall in Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall came in second, and Daniels Hall came in third.

“I was pretty set on living here again,” said Bridget Ketter, freshman in LAS and Allen Hall resident. “It has a smaller feel, so even though it’s a big campus, I can recognize a lot of people here (in Allen Hall).”

Lauren Jakobsson, sophomore in LAS, said the closeness of the community in Allen Hall also made an impression on her.

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    “It’s always very lively in the hallways, especially with the programs they hold here,” Jakobsson said. “It brings a lot of residents together, and it’s very convenient for them to actually go to these clubs because it’s in their own home.”

    Jakobsson said that although she enjoyed her time in Allen Hall the past two years, she feels that it’s time to “fly the coop.” Like many University students, Jakobsson is opting to live in a private apartment for her junior year to have a different experience.

    Private housing developments in the area are the main cause for low retention rates for University Housing, said Mari Anne Brocker Curry, associate director of housing information for University Housing.

    Although the opening of Wassaja Hall in 2016 has improved retention rates in the last year, Brocker Curry said that University Housing normally experiences an average retention decrease of 1 percent each year.

    “Students often feel like they are getting more by leaving,” Brocker Curry said. “But they don’t realize the value that University Housing has that those private places don’t.”

    University Housing is making an effort to communicate to students and parents the value of living in residence halls, such as 24-hour maintenance, access to residence hall programs, in-home tutors and dining halls.

    The new incentive programs are part of a broader campaign to address the retention decline. Other incentive programs involve raffles which offer a chance for the signee to win prizes like Illini Cash and free meal plans.

    A number of residence hall renovations are also in the works, including the addition of air conditioning in Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall and dining hall renovations in Illinois Street Residence Hall.

    “There’s definitely a comprehensive plan that looks at all our facilities and tries to update them so we can compete with some of the private offerings in town,” Curry said.

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