To meet the needs of a growing student body and maintain affordability, Oklahoma Christian University has announced their plan to convert the Tealridge Retirement Community into student housing. The plan was announced on Thursday Sept. 5. In a news release by the school, President John deSteiguer said the process will be gradual and will span several years.
“The transition will happen in a slow and considerate manner to minimize inconvenience to the current residents,” deSteiguer said.
A number of Oklahoma Christian students are currently living in Tealridge after the Phase 2 apartment complex was vacated in order to begin demolition. Mark and Vicki Concha moved into Tealridge in June.
“It was a little stressful for us going in,” junior Mark Concha said. “It’s not easy to pack up and move in such a short time and into such a small space.”
Oklahoma Christian has operated Tealridge since it opened in 1990. Current Tealridge residents will not be asked to move and anyone in the acceptance process or anyone with existing reservations will continue to be admitted. As rooms open up, they will be converted and utilized as student housing. deSteiguer said this transition will benefit students and residents alike.
“We have received positive feedback about the intergenerational interactions our student residents and senior residents have enjoyed the past few months,” deSteiguer said. “We know our students benefit by conversing with the fine Christian residents at Tealridge.”
Concha said moving into Tealridge ended up being a blessing for him and his wife.
“Vicki and I have enjoyed meeting these wise and experienced people,” Concha said. “It’s different in many unfortunate ways. Having a bunch of friends over late at night, blaring loud music, or cooking bacon aren’t really options anymore. Yet, the stories of these wonderful people, the helpfulness of the staff here, and just the overall enthusiasm Tealridge shows for having us here is worth it.”
Though some Tealridge residents are weary of students moving into their living space, others have embraced the opportunity to get to know this younger generation.
“One night a man named Stan and I talked from about 12 a.m. till 5 a.m.,” Concha said. “We say hi at least every week and he sent Vicki a card for her birthday.”
Oklahoma Christian is the state’s only university to not raise the price of tuition in the last two years. In order to do this, the administration has found ways they can provide for students’ needs without spending large amounts of tuition money.
“At a time when the costs of college and student debt are in the headlines, we are focused on delivering a high-quality Christian education at an affordable price rather than undertaking a major building project that could require large tuition increases to finance,” deSteiguer said. “This transition allows us to accommodate our growing enrollment in a way that honors Tealridge residents and benefits our students and their families.”
Stay tuned to The Talon for more in-depth looks at this situation.