The University of Houston's attempt at shaking off its commuter school reputation, requiring all freshman students to live on campus is apparently dead after State Sen. John Whitmire gave the administration push back on the plan.
The plan would have required first year, full-time students to live on campus beginning in fall 2015, but Whitmire, a UH alumnus, cried foul, citing insensitivity to the diversity of the university’s makeup. The Houston Chronicle obtained a text message from UH president Renu Khator to Whitmire which reads, "I have already killed any further consideration on it. Can you please forgive?"
The plan would have required first year, full-time students to live on campus beginning in fall 2015, but Whitmire, cried foul, citing insensitivity to the diversity of the university.
Whitmire told the Chronicle, "The U of H success stories are largely people that commuted. That built the university to be what it is. It will never be A&M or UT. It will be outstanding in its own experience — one of an inner city, Tier 1-quality education." The senator’s district includes the university.
Since being named UH chancellor and president in 2008, Khator has pushed for the school to become an elite Tier 1 institution. She is also a visible and vocal supporter of the athletics department and has encouraged the creation of new, state-of-the-art on-campus housing.
UH currently has 8,008 beds, second to Texas A&M University in residential capacity in Texas and expects 95 percent occupancy in fall 2014. Students can choose to live on floors with other students pursuing the same degrees and the new halls have living/learning centers that are close to resources such as free tutoring, study groups, advising and extra-curricular activities
Houston did create exceptions to the scraped plan, including freshmen who live with a parent or legal guardian within 20 miles of the university or freshmen who are married or have children. Students who are financially incapable or have a medical/ADA accommodation could have also applied for an appeal waiver.
The university pointed to research showing students who live on-campus are more involved in academic and co-curricular activities, earn higher grade point averages and are more likely to finish their degree in four years. But a senator put an end to that talk.