Laurie Mackey

Mallory Foutch, English and history senior, is a resident assistant at Moore-Hill dormitory. Foutch believes having a roommate helps develop habits that are useful when working in an office with people and teams in a professional setting.  

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

While other students at campuses around the country are taking advantage of the “super single” option — rooms with double the space but only one resident — no students are choosing the option at UT, according to UT officials.

Laurie Mackey, director of administrative services at the Division of Housing and Food Services, said DHFS offers basic single rooms, which are 135 square feet, and two types of larger single rooms, both of which are referred to as premium singles. According to Mackey, out of all 6,956 rooms in on-campus residence halls, only 250 are single rooms, and fewer than 200 students have taken advantage of the single option.

“We offer all of the premium singles that we have, which is why I do not see the trend increasing to offer more premium singles in the future,” Mackey said.

DHFS also allows double rooms to be used as singles in San Jacinto Residence Hall, assigning them on the basis of request and availability. Students have to pay as much as they would have to if two people were living in the room, but, according to Mackey, no students are currently utilizing the “super single” option.

“Less than 10 expressed an interest, and, when extended an offer, did not accept it,” Mackey said.

Mathematics freshman Erica Herod said she thinks, if she lived alone, she would have been discouraged, lonely and unmotivated to be productive.

“When one of us is feeling stressed or has a big test, we’re always there to support each other,” Herod said. “Since I’m brand new and don’t have many friends yet, it’s nice to know that when I come home I have a friend, and [that] I live with her and I get to see her all the time.”

Mallory Foutch, English and history senior, said she thinks it’s good to have a roommate when going through a period of transition in order to have someone to talk to about the experience. According to Foutch, living with a roommate also teaches students important lessons for later in life.

“I also think that having a roommate prepares you for life, in general, where you’re going to have to work with people eventually at some point,” Foutch said. “Learning how to live with someone, I think, is great practice for learning how to work in teams or in an office.”

Although there are fewer students on campus during the summer, UT continues to operate at its regular pace.

Despite enrollment dropping to around 16,000 students during the summer, there is not a significant drop in the amount of energy and water usage on campus because of hot temperatures and several departments that are still operating with the same number of staff.

Facilities Services spokeswoman Laurie Lentz said the energy and water rates do not change because of the climate.

“The hot summers raise the demand for electricity and water,” Lentz said. “So where we really see the lowest usage is in the winter months.”

Summer air conditioning accounts for energy usage remaining at fall and spring semester levels. According to Lentz, the buildings still need to be cooled despite less students and faculty members using them during the summer. Water usage does not drop-off because of the increased need for irrigation during the summer months.

“We’ve greatly improved the irrigation system, but nevertheless some irrigation has to take place,” Lentz said.

Unlike the number of students and faculty members on campus, the number of staff workers on campus does not decrease during the summer. According to Lentz, some departments are busiest during the summer.

“The staff numbers don’t fluctuate as much as the student and faculty numbers,” Lentz said. “For example, Project Management and Construction Services, summer is actually their biggest time of the year.” 

With class in session during the summer, the University offers on-campus housing to students as it does during the fall and spring semesters. According to Laurie Mackey, Division of Housing and Food Service administrative services director, approximately 400 to 600 students live on campus during the average summer.

Because of the low number, the University does not operate the dormitories on the northern side of campus, including Duren, Carothers and others. However the University continues to operate Brackenridge, Prather, Roberts and San Jacinto dorms for summer on-campus housing. Jester is used throughout the summer for Freshman Orientation.

Besides summer school and orientation, UT also plays host to various camps and conferences during the summer. According to Mackey, approximately 12,000 people attend a camp or conference held at the University. These tenants are also housed in Jester. These events range in focus from poetry and social justice to ballet and rowing.

Mackey said the DHFS retains their staff during summer. She said because Jester has to be constantly cleaned between orientations, camps and conferences, the DHFS staff from the closed dorms are relocated to the south side.

The DHFS also operates Jester City Limits and Market, the Jester Second Floor Dining Hall, Cypress Bend Café and the Littlefield Patio Café during the summer.

Lentz said the campus could potentially bring down the energy and water usage numbers, if each person on campus made small efforts to conserve. Lentz said in a recent one-day campaign by Facilities Services in April, students were encouraged to use less electricity for one hour resulting in campus power usage dropping by 2.7 percent.

“It would certainly help if people conserve and don’t have their thermostats turned up. I think that we really can make an impact,” Lentz said. “If everybody did a few things, it would certainly help.”

Follow Jacob Kerr on Twitter @jacobrkerr

Freshman math and pre-med double major Alicia Sego relaxes in her San Jacinto dorm room with roomate Christina Nguyen in-between classes Tuesday afternoon. San Jacinto Residence Hall will be offering a limited number of full year contracts in the 2013-2014 school year.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The Division of Housing and Food Service (DHFS) is offering full-year contracts to incoming and returning students looking for the full on-campus living experience during the 2013-2014 school year.

The contracts are for a limited number of rooms in the San Jacinto Residence Hall. Previously, students could only sign dorm contracts through the fall and spring semesters.

DHFS decided to offer the new type of contract because of students who need a place to live during winter and summer breaks, when most other residential dorms are closed, said Laurie Mackey, director of administrative services for DHFS.

“People who don’t live here and can’t afford to go back home, or who have a job in Austin and have to work over the summer or for winter break” will likely benefit from the contract plan the most, Mackey said.

She said DHFS will be monitoring applications and available space to find out how many contracts can be offered. 

“It’s going to depend on the interest and how much space we have, and we won’t know that until probably after May 1,” Mackey said.

Students will benefit from the new contract plan if they plan to stay in the Austin area for the full year.

Piano performance freshman Yanni Chan said she had no other choice but to stay with a friend in Houston during the winter break. With plane tickets too expensive to fly back to Macau, China, she said it would have been easier if she could have stayed on campus.

“It would be a lot better because I know people who can’t get back home and they would have to spend $35 per night,” Chan said. “If the dorms were open, we wouldn’t have to worry about money or finding places to stay.”

According to DHFS, there is an option to select a full-year contract in the 2013 housing application, but because of the limited number of rooms, not all students with this preference will be offered a full-year contract.

Mackey said that students who are not offered contracts will be offered the nine-month contract and can pay separately to live on campus in the summer if they wish. 

Students who receive full-year housing contracts will move in at the same time as everyone else in August but can stay in their rooms during holidays and breaks through the fall and spring semesters.

Public relations freshman Madelynne Rodriguez recently reapplied to live in the San Jacinto Residence Hall and is hoping to receive a full-year contract.

“I feel like it makes more sense because it’s a full year,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like its overall easier and it’ll definitely take stress out of people’s lives.”

Photo Credit: Ben Chesnut | Daily Texan Staff

Students in desperate need of a quick printout now have the ability to print their documents from the comfort of their own rooms and retrieve them from select printers around campus.

UTprint, a system implemented by UT’s Information Technology Services this semester, allows students to send their print jobs from any location in Austin to one of the many printers available in labs and print kiosks across campus. Students can then pick up their printouts at their convenience with a swipe of their student ID cards.

To access the service, students must use a new proximity ID card that can be obtained from the ID center at no cost and install the UTprint software through ITS’s BevoWare website. First time users will be required to register for the service by swiping their ID cards at any UTprint location.

“It is a benefit to students because now they can pick up their prints from any printer,” Laurie Mackey, director of administrative services at the UT Division of Housing and Food Service, said. All residence halls equipped with computer labs, including Jester, Carothers, Andrews, Kinsolving, Creekside and San Jacinto residence halls, will be able to use the UTprint system.

“Our computer labs have always been connected to ITS, and when they went to UTprint, so did we,” Mackey said.

Students can also access the UTprint service at the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center’s Student Microcomputing Facility, the Welch Computer Lab and several other major-specific computer labs. More than 50 printers around campus use UTprint, Mackey said.

Audiology junior Amy Ortiz said she is reluctant to use the UTprint system because of its limited payment options. The UTprint service can only be paid for with Bevo Bucks, a prepaid monetary account reserved for students that can be used at participating locations on and off-campus, including Cypress Bend Cafe and Subway.

“I do not want to be forced to get Bevo Bucks if I want to print something,” Ortiz said. “If I find I need to print on campus, I would rather just borrow a friend’s printer.”

Katie Vichensont, a human development and family sciences junior, said she prefers the UTprint system over the one used at the Perry-Castañeda Library.

“I felt like at the PCL, it was a little bit harder and a little more complicated last year having to name your prints and jobs,” Vichensont said. “[UTprint] is a lot better. You just need to register once to print, and if you need money on your Bevo Bucks [account], then you can just do it easily from the website.”

Vichensont, who only recently obtained her new proximity ID card, has only used the UTprint service once but already looks forward to using it again in the future.

“I like it better,” she said. “I am definitely going to be printing a lot more using this system.”

Photo Credit: Natasha Smith | Daily Texan Staff

It’s been a rough few weeks for Sarah Pastore, who until recently did not know where she would live this fall. The psychology freshman began searching for housing in late July after UT informed her she was still on a waiting list for a housing contract.

Since signing her lease at 21 Rio, an apartment complex in West Campus, Pastore said she feels a bit better.

“I’m not freaking out about having to live in my car anymore,” Pastore said, half-jokingly.

Laurie Mackey, UT Division of Housing and Food Service associate director, said UT is entering the school year with students still on the waiting list for a housing contract. In June, she told The Daily Texan that DHFS would be able to fill every housing request by the end of summer.

On July 24, DHFS sent an email to Pastore, one of 1,200 students, warning her she was still on a waiting list for a supplemental housing contract and suggesting she start looking at off-campus options.

As of Monday, Aug. 27, 24 students, including nine freshmen, were on a waiting list for housing. Mackey said those students were notified Sunday they would stay on the waiting list until the twelfth day of class.

“We’ve warned them it doesn’t look favorable, but we still keep them in mind as students cancel,” Mackey said.

Although UT guarantees a bed to students who apply for housing by April 24, Pastore said she was not aware she could apply before accepting UT’s admissions offer. She applied May 1.

She said she was notified in June that she was on a waiting list for supplemental housing, but Pastore said she had no idea she might not get a housing contract.

“I thought it was just a matter of waiting,” Pastore said.

Pastore gave The Daily Texan an e-mail exchange she had with DHFS in late June, when she inquired if there were any on-campus rooms left. In the University’s reply, dated June 25, the Housing Reservations Team said: “We cannot guarantee housing and it may still be several weeks before we are able to reach you in the queue.”

The e-mail does not mention or recommend off-campus housing possibilities. At the time of the e-mail, several off-campus private dorms still had rooms available.

Pastore, who is from Houston suburb Pearland, said she had to find an apartment under a time crunch, using only online research. Pastore said she chose a two-bedroom apartment at 21 Rio, and saw her room for the first time when she moved in Monday.

Many students who plan to live off-campus start looking as early as the prior fall semester. Pastore and others started in July.

The problem stems from an incoming freshman class made up of an estimated 8,000 students, about 900 more than last year’s class, and 400-600 more than expected.

When DHFS realized it would not be able to give every applicant a housing contract, it provided links to private dorms and online rental listings in the late July e-mail. All six private dorms linked were full at the time.

According to representatives, only one of the six private dorms usually have openings after July 24, which is when DHFS sent the e-mail.

Hardin House Dormitory, a private women’s dormitory in West Campus, filled in February. Scottish Rite Dormitory, another private women’s dorm off campus, filled before spring break. Goodall Wooten, a co-ed dormitory on Guadalupe Street, filled up in June. West Campus’ The Castilian and the on-campus Dobie Center filled up around the same time in July.

Tillery Martin, the leasing and marketing team leader for University Towers, said the dorm usually has availability during move in dates but filled up around July 20 this year. This is the only private dorm that usually has openings after late July.

Without private dorms to turn to in late July, students were forced to turn to apartments and other living options. Pastore said the only apartments available in late July were either expensive, or cheap and not credible.

“I was very disappointed with the University,” Pastore said. “They just did not give me enough time to find an apartment.”

But Mackey said DHFS could not have given students more warning.

“We didn’t know,” Mackey said. “We give students notice when we know. This was a very unique year.”

Chay Walker, a leasing and sales manager from 512 Realty, said he has surprisingly already started receiving requests for off-campus housing for next fall, something students normally start in October.

UT President William Powers Jr. and Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds will provide a Longhorn Network status update to the Board of Regents at a meeting Thursday, according to an agenda book posted online Friday.


The agenda provided no other information about what kind of updates the president or athletic director might present to the regents. Gary Susswein, a UT spokesperson, said he did not have any information in advance on what Powers would say.

 

ESPN, which operates the network, will exclusively air the season's first two football games live on the LHN. Unless another cable provider picks up the network, fans in Central Texas that do not have Grande Communications will not be able to watch the game.

 

Last fall, Grande Communications charged each room on campus an additional $1.50 to cover the LHN. The Division of Housing and Food services dipped into its reserve funds to pay a $69,280.50 increase in subscription fees to Grande Communications. Laurie Mackey, director of DHFS, said the University would continue to carry the LHN on campus.

"We contract with Grande and they carry the Longhorn Network," Mackey said. "To our knowledge we will continue to have the Longhorn Network in the residence halls."

This year, Mackey said the subscription fee was included in the room rates and that DHFS will not have to use its reserve funds to pay for the LHN.

Since the LHN’s launch last August, ESPN has struggled to score a deal with a major Central Texas cable provider like Time Warner Cable to broadcast the UT sports orientated channel. Grande Communications, the company UT contracts for television on campus, is the only cable provider in Central Texas that offers the network. Seven other providers throughout Texas, including Verizon’s FiOS TV in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, carry the LHN.
 

UT officials are not as confident as they were in June of the University’s ability to handle the large size of the incoming freshman class.

One thousand two hundred students who applied for housing contracts and have not received them were sent an email last week informing them that it was unclear whether there would be available beds. The email told students if they wanted to stay on the waitlist, then they needed to respond by Monday, July 30. Otherwise they would be automatically taken off. The email recommended students look at off-campus housing options, sending them links to a list of private dorms and online rental listings.

All six private dorms the University links to in its email — The Castilian, Dobie, The Goodall Wooten, Hardin House, Scottish Rite Dormitory and University Towers — have no availability for the fall.

Aftab Zindani, incoming UT engineering freshman, said he did not respond to the email. Zindani said had he known several months ago that the University would be unable to provide on-campus housing for him, he would have started his search sooner.

“I’m looking for apartments right now,” Zindani said. “I am a little bit upset UT wasn’t able to get me housing.”

The University is facing a larger-than-expected incoming freshman class, with estimates currently around 8,000 students compared to 7,149 last year. Including 350 supplemental housing spaces, or spaces in residence halls that are turned into makeshift dorms to meet demand and include furniture and a fridge, UT has about 7,500 beds on campus.

In June, Laurie Mackey, director of administrative services for UT Division of Housing and Food Service, told The Daily Texan that although housing usually gets more requests than can be filled each year, they are able to fill every request come August.

“Each time a student decides not to live on campus or not to attend UT we are able to give their space to another student,” Mackey said in June. “Every year we are able to fill every housing request by the end of the summer.”

But on Monday Mackey said the University is concerned about having trouble accomplishing that feat this year.

“Due to the large numbers of freshmen this year, we cannot guarantee that we can house all freshman,” Mackey said.

However, this is not the first year the University has sent an email like this before.

“We do this in order to get an accurate waiting list,” Mackey said.

Students who apply for housing by April 24 are guaranteed a housing contract, and Mackey said the University was able to meet this promise this year.

Chay Walker, a leasing and sales manager for 512 Realty, said students still had options even though the fall school year was almost here.

“It just depends what they are looking for,” Walker said. “If you’re looking for one bedroom or studios, there are still some of those. But if you are looking for houses at this point, then it is kind of a slim pick.”

Walker said 512 Realty is still leasing studios and one-bedrooms for the fall. However, it will be more expensive than in previous years.

“Everything has gone up this year, anywhere between 8 and 12 percent versus last year,” Walker said. “It really becomes a supply and demand thing. Austin as a whole is 95 percent occupied, but down here in Central Austin we are closer to 97 or 98 percent occupied.”

Walker said the studios 512 Realty was offering were being rented at between $725 and $995, while the one-bedrooms were being rented at between $950 and $1,275. Walker said these prices were consistent with other offers in Austin.

Lonestar Lofts, an apartment complex 512 Realty manages, is full for the fall. However, Walker said there were still apartments open at the Quarters, the Block and the Triangle.

ESPN is paying the University $300 million over the next 20 years so they can produce the Longhorn Network, but to watch it on campus, students may have to absorb an extra fee being paid to the campus cable provider.

The University’s Division of Housing and Food Services is using reserve funds to cover this year’s $69,280.50 increase in subscription fees to its cable provider, Grande Communications, said Laurie Mackey, director of administrative services at the Division of Housing and Food Services.

“[The fund] is used for any types of costs that weren’t budgeted for that year,” Mackey said.

She said the division will consider increasing student costs for contracts next year if the division cannot cover the rates themselves.

“Grande charged each room in the residence hall $5.85,” Mackey said. “They are charging an additional $1.50 to cover Longhorn Network.”

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, said it is important to carry the network on campus for the students, and the agreement puts the Longhorn Network on a major cable provider for Central Texas.

“We want this network to be successful, and it’s going to require several investments to make it successful,” Hegarty said.

Large providers such as AT&T and Time Warner have not picked up the Longhorn Network.

“Hopefully, what this does is it helps other large investors to begin to carry the Longhorn channel, but somebody’s got to be first,” Hegarty said.

Adjunct journalism professor Michael Whitney said in an interview last week that he has watched every UT football game for the past five years, but as a Time Warner customer he will not be able to watch the games provided by the Longhorn Network on TV.

“It’s not that I don’t understand that they’re still going through negotiations,” Whitney said. “But I don’t understand why they let it get to this late in the season. It’s not good if it’s a network that no one can watch.”

The Longhorn Network also added 12 UT basketball games and five UT-San Antonio football games. The vice president of Longhorn Network programming, Dave Brown, said in a press release that the addition of the UT basketball games to the Longhorn Network continues the network’s high profile coverage.

“We’ve compiled a terrific regular-season schedule in our first year of coverage,” Brown said in the press release.

UTSA athletics director Lynn Hickey said in a press release that he is excited for the remaining UTSA football games to be televised on the Longhorn Network.

“This will provide great exposure for our football program and our university,” Hickey said.

Printed on Friday, September 16, 2011 as: UT network may charge dorm students additional fee.