Lottie Jane closes east wing after dip in enrollment

7 March 2017
Amy Cairns, Student Writer

Low enrollment and an increase in housing capacity has incited administration to close off half of Lottie Jane.

Lottie Jane Mabee Hall, the all-female residence hall, was founded in 1947 and can house over 200 residents inside its walls. Currently, Lottie Jane has 110 residents, barely over half of its potential capacity.

Because Lottie Jane has been lower than full occupancy for the past two years, University of Tulsa Housing has decided to close half of the building for the 2017-2018 school year. Lottie Jane will close the entire east half of the building and half of the “U-Side,” removing two whole floors from its availability, and cutting 90 available spaces from over 200.

A few factors have contributed to the closing of Lottie Jane. After a spike in enrollment in 2014 and the closing of Fisher East, Housing Services found themselves short 100 spots. Because of this, the university decided to build Hardesty Hall, which provides 308 additional spots. This spike, however, did not become a trend, and enrollment went back to normal, causing lower occupancy in the residence halls. In 2014, Lottie Jane third floor alone had 54 residents, whereas in 2015, that same floor only had 22 residents.

Over the past few years, enrollment at the University of Tulsa has remained fairly steady, with 4,682 in 2014, and 4,563 in 2016. With the drops in enrollment, the ratio of male to female population has shifted from a 51 percent male, 49 percent female ratio in 2013 to a 56 percent male, 44 percent female breakdown in 2016. With the drop in female enrollment, Lottie Jane is having a hard time filling its rooms. Housing Services has taken some countermeasures to ensure occupancy, like disallowing student-staff members from having roommates, changing Fisher West Suites to singles and increasing advertising and incentives for residence hall living. This drop in enrollment is not a new issue; Housing Services had to close another residence hall many years back. Fisher East was a residence hall before it was closed and turned into offices. Closing all of Lottie Jane would cause an irreparable loss to the University — once a building is closed and repurposed, it’s nearly impossible to reverse this change.

Kristen Davis, current 2nd East Resident Assistant, will be on the Lottie staff next semester. When asked about her opinion on the closing, Davis said “closing half the building will be an adjustment, but bringing residents physically closer together should create a much stronger community.” With its current occupancy, Lottie Jane won’t actually be losing any residents in the closing. The 110 residents currently residing in Lottie Jane are spread out across three floors on five wings. Starting next year, about the same number of residents will be in three floors on three wings, thus allowing residents to be closer together and a tighter community.

Housing Services did not want to close all of Lottie Jane due to its great history and status at the university. Lottie Jane was one of the original residence halls on campus, and it continues to uphold traditional events and values, keeping part of the university’s history alive. Lottie Jane is the only all-female residence hall on campus, offering a safe haven for those uncomfortable with mixed-gender housing.

Senior Resident Assistant Denisha Garner said “to lose Lottie is to lose a unique community for this campus. There’s a lot of tradition here, like SYR, our annual Spring Semi-Formal (March 25) which is open to all students.“

Due to losing half of its occupancy, Lottie Jane will also be losing half of its student staff. Lottie Jane had nine student staff members in 2015-2016, 8 in 2016-2017, and will be down to five in 2017-2018. Previously one of the largest student housing staffs on campus, Lottie will now have the smallest staff out of all the residence halls.