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Student Senate President Megan Handle applauds as the first speaker of the night steps up to the podium during the Student Senate meeting in Walter Hall at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, Nov. 8, 2023.

Senate discusses housing plans, passes bereavement bill

Student senate met Wednesday to hear from Housing and Residence Life, who shared plans to renovate current residence halls and construct a new 600-bed hall. Senate also passed a bill to create a bereavement policy to better regulate the excused absences allowed for students grieving the loss of a loved one. 

Jneanne Hacker, executive director of Housing and Residence Life, shared some ways she said her team makes Ohio University home for students.

“We do so by creating engaging experiences and programs within our halls that help connect our students and help develop that sense of home,” Hacker said. 

Hacker also spoke on how Housing and Residence Life accommodates students who may need extended housing on both Thanksgiving and Spring breaks. 

“We want to ensure that we are fully supportive of students who have Ohio University their home,” Hacker said.

Chris Owens, director for housing capital and facilities planning, spoke on the current and future renovation plans.

In the current phase, various updates to lobby spaces, HVAC and windows are underway in the residence halls of Bryan, Gamertsfelder, Sargent, Treudley and Boyd.  

Owens also shared the university’s plans for a new residence hall located on South Green.

“We are going to construct a 600-bed residence hall that will be built behind Brown, Pickering, and McKinnon Halls,” Owens said. “The building itself has 5 stories of residential rooms” 

Since the area where the new building will sit is on a floodplain area, Owens said they have plans to raise the hall on a 10-foot hill that will be sloped out.

“We’re looking to create a 2000 square foot multipurpose space that is the space for a variety of programs and also will have single-use restrooms that will be accessible from the outdoors,” Owens said. 

Owens said the new hall will have singles and doubles with bathrooms that have a “unique” style.

“They all have three stalls that will have floor-to-ceiling doors, where inside that room will be a shower and a toilet,” Owens said. “Also around the hallway on that bathroom will be a single user bathroom with a sink, toilet and shower in it.” 

Owens said the bathrooms will be welcoming to all genders.

Student senate also passed a bill aimed at creating a bereavement policy to better help grieving students get accommodation for time off used during the passing of an immediate family member. 

“Creating a centralized policy to support grieving students within the university will ensure that faculty need not spend time on determining how to provide appropriate accommodations for individual students,” Student Senate President Megan Handle said. 

The proposed bill also hopes for students to communicate with a central campus unit regarding the death to eliminate the need for a student to reach out to multiple faculty members.

“The policy allows five days of bereavement leave,” Handle said. “The policy allows for additional days of leave for students who need to travel outside of North America.” 

Student Senate members plan to work with OU President Lori Stewart Gonzalez and other university administration to refine and implement the new policy.


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