ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — College freshman McKenna Thelen has never lived with roommates before, but she thinks she can tolerate just about anyone, as long as they don’t steal from her.
“I am easy to get along with,” Thelen said while settling into her new room on the University of New Mexico’s main campus. “Even mean people I could get along with.”
Thelen is one of the roughly 3,800 students who will live in university housing for the fall semester of 2016. Roughly 27,000 students will come to campus starting Monday. And students should expect plenty of changes, both welcome and vexing, on their return.
Thelen and other residents in the Santa Clara dorm will benefit from renovations completed over the summer.
Wayne Sullivan, director of Residence Life and Student Housing, said crews installed new floors and replaced old stationary furniture with new movable desks and cabinets. Sullivan said the decor gives students more say in their environment.
Resident adviser Luisa Sanchez-Carrera said she appreciates the change. In her previous room in Santa Clara, her desk was next to a roommate’s closet and she was constantly battered by it. And other resident advisers said that students from other dorms have been swinging by to see the new dorm.
Staff also expanded the university’s WiFi network.
Between the spring and fall semester, UNM averages about 2,000 to 3,000 devices daily, said Steve Perry, the director of IT networks. When school starts, that number will rise to 25,000 to 50,000 a day.
Bandwidth isn’t really the problem. Perry said that, if a student is getting poor service, it probably means users are too far from an access point.
Duane Arruti said the IT department spent the summer creating the new coverage areas, including at Woodward Hall, the largest lecture hall on campus, and Scholes Hall, home to the president’s office and regent committee meetings.
Arruti and Perry also said that staff is working on a project to provide 100 percent coverage at the Pit to provide a better experience for fans.
Navigating to and around UNM may prove challenging. Currently, the city of Albuquerque is replacing and realigning old water lines along Central Avenue adjacent to the main campus’ south side. Those lines are being replaced as part of the prep work for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. Traffic crawls through the area as a result.
David Morris, a public affairs manager with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, said the goal had been to finish the work before school started. But, as of Friday afternoon, he said they had failed to reach their goal.
Accordingly, only one lane of westbound traffic along Central Avenue will be open from University Boulevard to Stanford Drive SE so crews can finish concrete work. He did say in an email that access to all area residences and businesses will remain available.
Barbara Morck, head of the Department of Parking and Transportation Services, said UNM has been monitoring the construction, trying to keep the university community informed and attempting to offer alternative ideas.
“Without a doubt – and especially for those folks who have not been on campus since the end of the spring semester – the changes in the traffic flow along Central Avenue, as well as (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue NE), has already had an impact,” Morck said. “And, yes, the UNM shuttle service to and from South Campus has been impacted, as it is increasingly more difficult to make the right turn from campus onto westbound Central and then southbound University.”
She noted that the shuttle drivers are professionals who do the best they can in any given situation.
Parking permits are already on sale, though desirable permits for places such as the Q Lot or the Yale parking structure sold out within minutes.
The university will have about 16,000 permits for sale throughout the year. Permits for the other lots, including the large parking area near the Pit and the football stadium, are still available.
Starting this semester, students will also be required to take online training regarding sexual assault and harassment before they can register for classes. The training will be part of a requirement to register for new classes.
Faculty and staff are required to take similar training before the end of the year.