If Weber State wants to attract more students, they need a place to live

Wednesday , April 19, 2017 - 4:30 AM

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

Weber State University is growing, but its growth will be difficult to sustain without additional student housing.

That’s why it’s vital to build apartments near the WSU campus.

School officials and developers laid out their vision for the project at a Wednesday, April 12, community forum.

  • RELATED: “Weber State and city officials go forward with proposed apartment complex”

Axis Marketing, an Oden developer, proposes building a $7 million apartment complex on Harrison Boulevard near 3850 South. City and state laws prevent it, however.

Why? Because rules allow three unrelated people to live in an apartment, and the Axis complex calls for 41 four-bedroom apartments.

Brad Mortensen, vice president for WSU advancement, pointed out April 12 that communities across Utah developed ordinances permitting student housing.

Ogden could be next — the planning commission recommended a conditional overlay allowing Axis to build this complex, but doesn’t change the city’s occupancy ordinance.

Whatever it takes. Because enrollment set a record at Weber State last fall, reaching 26,809. Over the last decade, enrollment grew by 46 percent, the school’s Office of Institutional Research reports.

On-campus housing can only accommodate 1,001 students and runs at about 85 percent capacity. Students’ only other real choice near WSU is University Village, which isn’t affiliated with the school.

  • RELATED: “Weber State seeks ordinance change for off-campus student housing”

WSU won’t own or operate the Axis complex either, but the university plans to market it to students.

New students.

Out-of-state students.

School officials say 10 percent of Weber State students come from out of state At the University of Utah, Utah State University and Dixie State University, it’s 20 percent.

"If there are ways we can find nonresident students to pay a higher price tag to help support us, that's a good thing,” Mortensen said.

The project still requires City Council approval and a number of studies.

But without new student housing near campus, it’s hard to see how the school can maintain its consistent growth.

WSU is vital to the regional economy. We need to provide it with the support necessary to thrive — especially when it’s a simple thing like a conditional housing overlay.

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