Concerns with Old Mill bring questions about on-campus housing

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Old Mill Apartments. Photo by Emily Ashman

On Sept. 13, junior English and theology major Samantha Tieman was approached by two men in the Tower Village Apartments, known by University of Dallas students as Old Mill, who tried to get her to enter their van. Tieman was able to get away safely but was advised by the Irving and UD Police Departments to move since the men saw where she lived. 

“Old Mill begrudgingly let us out of the lease but only after paying the remainder of the rent owed, despite the circumstances,” said Tieman. On Sept. 18, she moved to the newly opened Westloop at the Diamond Interchange apartment building. 

Suspicious activity and problems with the management of Tower Village are not new for UD students who live there. For many, it is not a big enough issue to move since the rent prices are affordable and the complex is so close to campus. 

“Occasionally, I hear gunshots at night that seem to be coming within the complex. This, combined with the frequency of Irving Police vehicles, contributes to a general uneasiness, a ‘sketchy feeling’ during the later hours,” said JP Dostalik, a senior business major. 

Ruth Bennett, a senior biology major, explained that the lack of lighting on the streets makes her feel uneasy sometimes. 

“The Mill specifically seems relatively safe once you get inside, but it’s not well-lit apart from the roads,” Bennett said. “I’ve had a couple experiences when I’ve been walking from my car late at night and men have spoken to me, but they weren’t aggressive.”

Dostalik and his roommates have experienced problems with multiple work orders not being fulfilled and long-term issues with facilities, like a broken dishwasher that was never fixed. 

“I considered [moving] due to the questionable quality of life here at the Mill,” said Dostalik. However, he decided against it, saying, “One of my values is autonomy, and at my residence, I’d prefer to not have to think about UD’s campus restrictions.” 

For Matthew Quinlan, a senior business major, Tower Village administration’s efforts to improve the complex impacted his decision to stay. “They just started last week repaving the road going through the complex, so I really do think they are going to try a little to improve the place,” he said. 

Grace Nye, a senior biochemistry major, expressed a similar sentiment. “They’ve stated that their intention is to make Old Mill nicer and safer again, although only time will tell what they actually do to make that happen,” she said. 

Both Quinlan and Bennett said that they would have stayed on campus if there was a more affordable option that allowed students to have a place to live during the summer, too. 

“I think it would really help campus life if we had dorms, other than Clark, that were tighter knit and where upperclassmen could live, kind of similar to how some other universities have it,” said Quinlan. 

“I kind of think of how Notre Dame has it, because I had a lot of family who went there, and essentially you pick a dorm to live in and are there all four years and they have competitions between the dorms and such. If we were able to have something like that, I would definitely consider living there.” 

Quinlan’s suggestion is part of UD president Dr. Jonathan Sanford’s long-term strategic plan for the university. 

“Short term we are looking at some additional renovations to existing dorms. Long term, this is connected to the strategic plan, when it comes to cultivating a generation of virtuous students,” said Sanford. 

“In our future, we need a more robust dorm life and I’m exploring with others whether that might entail having multiple years in a dorm instead of just freshmen, sophomores dedicated dorms but dorms to which people could be attached to all four of their years, a kind of house system.” 

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