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BCC housing at record levels
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Barton Community College officials may look at expanding student housing in the future, in light of a report presented last week to the board of trustees.

Diane Engle, director of student life, said the dormitories can accommodate 292 students, and last fall there were 307 signed up. Some of those students were given rooms at America’s Best Value Inn in Great Bend for a time, with special arrangements made for transportation.

Sometimes a third person moves into a room designed for two, with everyone receiving a reduced rate.

The housing shortage doesn’t continue throughout the year. This semester, the dorm population is down to 285. In the summer, about 100 students in Barton County and Central Kansas Upward Bound programs live in the dorms, along with roughly a dozen regular students.

Full-time freshmen and sophomores taking classes on campus must reside in student housing unless they are married, 21 years of age or older, have one or more children living with them, or live in Barton County or a border county and reside with parents, legal guardian or an immediate family member of legal age. The current rate is $4,784 for two semesters, which includes 19 meals a week and services such as maintenance and housekeeping, and amenities such as a free laundry room, Internet and basic cable.

College housing has expanded over the years. There are now four residence halls, named Sunflower, Meadowlark, Cottonwood and Bluestem. The college owes $3.3 million in principle and interest on the newest building, which was added in 1999.

During discussion, Dean Elaine Simmons mentioned another reason more on-campus housing might be needed in the future. "We may need dorm space for adults from time to time," she said.

College trustees also heard a monitoring report on its mandate for "personal enrichment" opportunities, which included on-campus activities. Engle said most of the participants in the top activities live in student housing. The top activities for the past year were the Halloween dance, monthly bingo game, annual casino night and the late-night breakfast, which is offered just before or the first night of final exams. Another top activity is movie night; twice a month, students can get tickets to the movie theater in Great Bend at a reduced rate.

Sometimes the off-campus activities include transportation from student housing. For example, last Thursday students could ride a bus to Ellinwood for bowling. Engle said such trips usually include a stop at Walmart before returning to campus.

Dean Charles Perkins also weighed in on the monitoring report, sharing data from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE). This national survey shows that Barton ranked significantly higher than average when rating full-time students’ participation in college-sponsored activities or organizations.