Wayne State’s Housing and Residential Life discussed changes to housing options and policies during a town hall Jan. 10. 

Chatsworth Tower Apartments and Helen L. DeRoy Apartments will close on May 1, said Tim Michael, associate vice president for student auxiliary services and chief housing officer. DeRoy will be demolished and Chatsworth will undergo renovations and reopen in 2020, according to the resolution passed by WSU's Board of Governors. 

“Chatsworth will reopen in a year as suite-style housing instead of an apartment building because of the rise in interest of undergraduate housing,” Michael said.

Once DeRoy and Chatsworth close, University Towers will be the only unfurnished apartment building on campus. Apartments in other housing facilities such as the Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments, Tower Residential Suites, Yousif B. Ghafari Hall or Leon H. Atchison Hall are suite-style, which often does not accommodate graduate students who may have families. 

Four floors in University Towers will be offered to undergraduate students, and the rest of the floors will be reserved for graduate students, said Kelly Thacker, associate director of housing operations. 

Students expressed concern and uncertainty regarding their housing situation and conditions. 

Diona Podushkina, a senior living in DeRoy, said she was concerned with the timing of the apartment’s closure.

“Many people have their last finals on the day they are supposed to move out,” she said.

Michael said the end of the semester has always been the last day for housing contracts, and residents have been informed of the closures when signing their contracts for the last two years.

Check-in policy changes

Housing and Residential Life changed its check-in policy on Jan. 7. The previous policy required non-student guests to leave government-issued IDs at the front desk while visiting a tenant. 

Non-student visitors now need to use their ID to initially check into the building and do not need to leave it at the front desk during the duration of their visit, said Michael. 

Housing and Residential Life changed the policy in response to recommendations made by University Towers Futures Group, said Thacker, who serves on the group. 

Several graduate students said they were concerned with the limitation on the number of guests residents are allowed to entertain at once, and that the policy prevents them from having their families come visit them.

Michael said exceptions can be made for close family members by the front desk. 

“There have been instances where more than four family members (of a resident) were allowed in,” said Michael. “We should be able to make these decisions at the (front) desk level. We need to work on that.”

Michael said the two-guest policy reflects that of most urban institutions. He said the guest limit was implemented after several incidents last year highlighted abuse of guest privileges. Michael did not share the details of these incidents. 

Concerns with transparency and accountability

During the meeting, several students said they had trouble finding information regarding housing.

“It took me many, many phone calls, and no one could tell me that housing falls under tuition,” Podushkina said.

Thacker said Housing and Residential Life was working on making information more accessible online in response to comments from a recent survey given to campus residents.

Other students said they were having trouble with services provided by Housing and Residential Life.

“With maintenance, I feel like there is zero accountability. They seem to pick and choose (work orders) and then close them without fixing the problem,” said Jeffrey Matthews, a junior living in Chatsworth.

Moreover, Matthews said he has problems with the laundry service in Chatsworth. He said there were several instances where the laundry machines broke on him, and the laundry service providers failed to refund him his money.

Michael said Housing and Residential Life is aware of the problems with the laundry service provider and has been pressuring it to improve its services.

Ken Narita is The South End's general assignment reporter. He can reached at ken.au.narita@gmail.com.