Living on campus at Washington State University Tri-Cities is apparently closer to becoming a reality.
University officials have been in discussions with the Port of Benton about partnering on the project, said university and port officials and students.
Specifics, such as how large the dorm would be, how much it would cost to build and when it would welcome its first residents, have not been released.
“We are waiting on some final details on the (request for proposals) that will be led by the Port of Benton and should be out within the next couple of weeks,” said Chris Meiers, WSU Tri-Cities vice chancellor of enrollment management and student services.
“It would be a step toward a better student experience on campus,” said senior Rigo Leon, president of the Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities.
Stuart Dezember, the Port of Benton’s finance director and auditor, confirmed the port is considering using some port-owned property near WSU Tri-Cities. However, he said, that doesn’t rule out building the dorms on another property near the college.
The university is in its first year of an agreement with the Timbers apartment complex near the north Richland campus that sets aside units just for WSU students, with the university providing a resident assistant who organizes activities.
Not all 25 of the apartments set aside for students are full, meaning WSU pays for them, but that has not worried university officials nor does it rule out the need for a dorm, they said.
“We are very pleased with the Timbers project and any additional housing developments will complement any of the current housing options for students,” Meiers said in an email. “Students want options and we have many students desiring more traditional residence hall-style living arrangements closer to campus.”
A number of WSU Tri-Cities students are from communities far enough from campus that they need housing in town, with 10 students living in his south Richland apartment complex alone.
It could also lure more prospective students to the university, as they would have to worry less about transportation to and from classes if they could just walk from a dorm.
Improving student life on campus has been a goal of Chancellor H. Keith Moo-Young since he was hired in 2013.
Administrators have supported efforts by student leaders to build a student union on campus. Students have voted to pay for it with a new fee.
The university also partnered earlier this year with a Kennewick-based events promoter to have concerts on campus, though no events are currently scheduled.