WIU students say they’re disappointed freshman dorms will close

MACOMB, Illinois – Western Illinois University will be closing decades-old dorms, Bayliss and Henninger, beginning Fall of 2019.

"To better accommodate new freshmen at Western Illinois University, new student housing will be moved from Bayliss and Henninger halls, also known as the North Quad, to Thompson and Lincoln-Washington halls beginning this fall."

"Honestly I'm sad," says freshman Kendra Todd, who lives in Bayliss Hall. "I've made a lot of memories here, and I'm sure I'm going to do the same this semester. So I'm sad it's not reopening"

According to the University, incoming freshmen will now live on floors designated for first-year students in Thompson and Lincoln-Washington halls (on the opposite end of campus) which also houses sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

"I was disappointed because again it is so nice to have this space you can call your own when you come in as a new freshman student," Henninger RA Michael Cross says.

Cross says he understands the tough financial situation the university is in and trusts the university made the best decision.

The announcement comes amidst declining enrollment numbers, a scandal resulting in a trustee resigning, and a new price-lock guarantee by the University hoping to boost numbers.

"(Declining enrollment is) at the forefront of this," WIU Director of Residential/ Auxilary Facilities Joe Roselieb says, "and we hope by doing this it'll change things around. we'll have better retention."

Roselieb says Bayliss and Henninger Halls will be repurposed and used during conferences held at the university and as a place for employees to stay overnight during harsh weather. Roselieb says he's hopeful the university's funding situation can change with a new governor and legislature in Illinois.

Two new living-learning communities (floors where students with similar majors are grouped) will be added in the dorms i.e. business studies and agriculture studies, beginning fall 2019.

"The feedback we often hear from prospective students and families is that they want their own room, updated accommodations and dining options within the hall, or in close proximity, Moving new students to these halls meets these student needs, and provides additional benefits and opportunities for incoming freshmen."-Joe Roselieb, director of residential and auxiliary facilities.

The University says resident assistants and building service workers from the closed dorms will be shifted to other halls as/if needed.