watterson workers

Sophomore journalism major Ariel McGee (left) and sophomore political science major Autumn Foster (right) both work the front desk at Watterson Towers. 

For many students, Illinois State University is more than an educational forum. There are 5,906 on-campus students that call ISU home.

Since so many students live on campus, a dedicated housing program is necessary.

Staff overview

To serve student, campus and community needs, 21 professional staff members and 26 in administration work as one efficient housing army.

Stephanie Thompson, residence hall coordinator and apartments and case manager, oversees ISU’s Fell and School Street apartments.

“I love how supportive the university and department are of innovation and being creative in better serving students,” Thompson stated on University Housing's website.

Student staff

Student workers solidify the housing operation. Though exact numbers evolve with needs and schedules, many work as resident assistants.

One resident assistant is junior history major Frank Murray. He describes his major duties.

“I must be present on my floor in order to build community,” Murray explained. “I have a certain amount of time that is spent on-call, meaning that I have to be in the building with a radio so in case anything is going wrong in the building I can respond.”

Additionally, Murray ensures roommate situations are smooth. If a situation turns sour, Murray must mediate. Another situation he assesses is damage done by residents during occasional room inspections.

Outside of monitoring situations, Murray puts on social and developmental programs. Developmental programs include academics, civic engagement, diversity and independence.

“Basically, I have to be available for residents in case they need me, or so I can refer them to a service or person who can help them get what they need,” Murray said.

Murray feels rewarded for his hard work. He enjoys positive relationships with residents and takes pride in his work.

“I feel like as a resident assistant, more than anything, I set an example for my residents and I let them know that there is someone on campus who cares about them,” Murray said.

Themed Living-Learning Communities

Themed Living-Learning Communities (TLLC) provides unique opportunities for like-minded students to study and socialize.

Students majoring or minoring in a specific area are approved for a TLLC theme. These applications are reviewed daily, Monday through Friday.

Students can choose a space within many communities during room selection.

The communities are business, co-sciences, fine arts, honors, IT, international, leadership and service, mathematics, nursing, music, sophomore experience, special education, teacher education, transfer students and wellness/substance-free.

Maya Ortiz, freshman theatre and film studies major, struggled last semester with social assimilation in a smaller, more rural environment than her hometown of Chicago. Living in the fine arts TLLC eased the struggle.

“I am still not completely adjusted, but being in a TLLC makes it easier,” Ortiz said.

Additionally, students can also join an interest-based community. They can fill out an application in the University Housing portal.

Watterson Towers Facts

The most visible location in ISU housing since 1968 is Watterson Towers. Standing at 298.5 feet, 28 stories, Watterson is the second-tallest dormitory in the world (340-foot 33 Beckman at Pace University in New York City is the tallest). Watterson is also the tallest point between Chicago and St. Louis.

Watterson was named after ISU geography professor Arthur Watterson. Eight elevators grant over 2,000 students mercy when navigating the architectural behemoth.

Living costs

Though students who live on campus find new friends and opportunities, they sacrifice at-home savings. For the 2017-2018 academic year, students initially pay $250. Additionally, a $50 application fee is made.

Specifically, residence hall prices range from $2,667 for double/quad rooms per semester to $4,560 for a super single suite room. Though utilities and internet are included, a meal plan is required.

Furthermore, Cardinal Court apartments range from $4,148 to $5,802. Utilities, internet and parking are included. Unlike at residence halls, a meal plan is optional.

University-owned apartments on Fell Street are $2,869 per semester. Alternatively, double apartments on School Street are $2,515 per semester. They house three or four occupants. School Street single apartments are $3,225 per semester. Single apartments house two to three occupants.

All utilities are included in University-owned apartment expenses. Meal plans are optional.

All students who have not been out of high school for more than two years must live on campus. However, exceptions are made for particular circumstances such as living with a parent/guardian and commuting, have dependent children, are married or in a documented domestic partnership or will be living in their Greek house for the full academic year. Health concerns and related reasons for not living on campus should contact the office of Student Access and Accommodations.

STUART STALTER is a Features Reporter for The Vidette. He can be contacted at sstalt1@ilstu.edu Follow him on Twitter at @VidetteStuS

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