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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Olivia Camacho-Roy cranked up a Frank Sinatra song and peeked out the open door of her dorm room in Collins Living-Learning Center. The Indiana University freshman was waiting to meet her new roommate, who would be sharing their 200-square-foot room for the next school year.
Because of varying renovation schedules, the inside of a first-year residence hall can look vastly different from one end of IU's campus to the other. All rooms come furnished per-person with a bed, dresser or closet and desk. Each facility also has cable, Ethernet connections, Wi-Fi and pianos.
Camacho-Roy's room has bunk beds, two desks and built-in closet space. There are shared bathrooms down the hall.
Standing in front of a fan, Camacho-Roy said she chose to live in Collins after previously visiting a friend there.
"It was really diverse," she said, "and I fell in love with it immediately."
Known for its welcoming atmosphere, the old dorm serves as a living-learning community for students, about half of whom are freshmen. Student leaders organize programming and teach classes in the quad.
Things like that draw some students to Collins. But it's also one of a few aging dorms on campus without air conditioning and having smaller living spaces and a higher number of communal bathroom setups, as compared with many other dorms' semi-private bathrooms attached to the rooms themselves.
While Camacho-Roy said she doesn't mind the lack of air conditioning, it's a deal-breaker for other students, like freshman Chad Bacon.
"I don't know if I could live without air conditioning," said Bacon, who moved in early to Briscoe Residence Center on Sunday.
A residence hall in IU's Northwest neighborhood, Briscoe was renovated a few years ago.
Bacon lives in a single room on one of the dorm's upper floors, with a crystal clear view of Memorial Stadium and Assembly Hall through both of his large windows. There's a sink near his door, right next to his private bathroom. His living space includes a nook for his desk and totals more than 340 square feet — making it nearly one and a half times the size of Camacho-Roy's double room.
"This is twice the size of the bedroom I lived in all my life," said Bacon, "so I definitely upgraded."
The difference in amenities between Camacho-Roy's and Bacon's room shows up in the price tag. A double room in Collins goes for $5,725 a year, where a single in Briscoe runs $8,521.
Residence halls are placed into one of three categories: economy, standard and enhanced. Collins falls into the "economy" category, and Briscoe, the "enhanced."
Pat Connor, head of Residential Programs and Services, said the rating system was decided upon about a decade ago with the help of student government officials. In general, ratings are based on how private the bathrooms are and whether or not there is air conditioning.
While Collins underwent changes in the past decade — the building received bathroom upgrades, new furniture and windows — IU vice president of capital planning and facilities Tom Morrison said the dorm is scheduled for another renovation in 2019.
"We're four or five years out — we don't have any details, because we haven't begun planning," he said.
Wright, one of the other two "economy" dorms, is scheduled for renovations around the same time. The third, Read, is currently in phase one of renovations that took about half of its rooms out of commission for the entirety of the current school year.
While the economy dorms lack central air conditioning, some students get window units installed — but only if they prove a medical need to do so. They also get charged an extra fee to compensate for the additional utility cost of running the units. Connor said they can't install units in every room, though, or it would overload the capacity of the building system. He knows that because it happened at Briscoe prior to its renovations.
"Temperatures reached over 100 degrees, and we ran into breaker issues," he said.
The university is currently working on an extensive space management plan. Part of that involves a change approved earlier this year to transition Memorial and Goodbody halls in Wells Quad back into residential housing.
If the next dorm renovations include air conditioning plans, all of IU's dorms could be cool by 2020. But Morrison said that's yet to be decided.
For now, the usual excitement of Welcome Week seems to have swept across student housing_air-conditioned or not.
Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, http://bit.ly/1K6S34g
Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com
This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The (Bloomington) Herald-Times.
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