Wendy Kenigsberg/Cornell Marketing Group Cornell's housing surveys randomly invited 3,900 undergraduates and 2,100 graduate and professional students to share their housing preferences. The demographics of those who responded (such as class year or gender) mirrored the general populations of both undergraduate and graduate/professional students at the time the survey was administered.

This story was written by Nancy Doolittle and originally published in the Cornell Chronicle. It was NOT written by The Ithaca Voice.

Two student surveys administered last spring as part of the Housing Master Plan process are helping frame the discussion about student housing at Cornell.

The online surveys invited 3,900 undergraduates and 2,100 graduate and professional students to share their housing preferences. More than a third of undergraduates responded, while a little under a third of graduate and professional students did.

Most survey respondents are moderately satisfied with their current living circumstances. For undergraduate students, the top three most important housing features were, in order of preference: cost of housing, proximity to classes and living with friends. They would like to see more on-campus housing – increasing opportunities to live on campus longer to help build a sense of community – and they liked that Cornell offers a wide variety of types of residence halls.

For graduate and professional students, the top three features were: anticipated cost of housing, proximity to Cornell and access to public transportation.

“We know that students want or need or expect different things in their housing situations as they move through their Cornell careers. We wanted to explore and measure what those different things are,” said Marty Rauker, senior director of strategic initiatives for Student and Campus Life. “Conducting the surveys and studying the results, in combination with focus groups, help us get that understanding.”

Cornell’s housing surveys randomly invited 3,900 undergraduates and 2,100 graduate and professional students to share their housing preferences. The demographics of those who responded (such as class year or gender) mirrored the general populations of both undergraduate and graduate/professional students at the time the survey was administered. (Image by Wendy Kenigsberg/Cornell Marketing Group)
Cornell’s housing surveys randomly invited 3,900 undergraduates and 2,100 graduate and professional students to share their housing preferences. The demographics of those who responded (such as class year or gender) mirrored the general populations of both undergraduate and graduate/professional students at the time the survey was administered. (Image by Wendy Kenigsberg/Cornell Marketing Group)

Undergraduates prioritized having Wi-Fi, mail/package delivery, quiet study place, in-unit laundry and nearby dining in their top five amenities for ideal housing. In addition to these amenities, graduate and professional students also valued having a private bath and ease of access to campus.

International graduate and professional student survey respondents were much more concerned about access to public transportation, proximity to shopping, availability of Cornell-owned housing and location within a certain school district than domestic survey respondents. Still in the planning stage, the new Maplewood housing project will focus on addressing these needs and interests. Projected to begin construction this fall, the new complex/neighborhood will more than double the capacity of its predecessor to house graduate and professional students.

The university will continue to update the campus and local community this fall on the Housing Master Plan process so far. Two town hall meetings have been scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 28, at noon in 105 Ives Hall, and at 4:30 p.m. in Goldwin Smith Hall’s Lewis Auditorium.

“The survey has given us a baseline of data to understand what our students consider as an optimal mix of living environments,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life. “Our final stage of the process involves developing a multi-pronged strategy, recognizing that there will never be a one-size-fits-all approach that meets everyone’s needs.”

Developing that multi-pronged strategy will engage campus leaders, students and community leaders. Cornell also will continue to work with the city of Ithaca and Tompkins County, and will be well-represented at the county’s housing summit this November, Lombardi said.

More information about the Housing Master Plan process and the survey results can be found at scl.cornell.edu/about-us/housing-master-plan.