April Anderson talked with Jonathan Carpenter from a cushy chair in the IU Southeast Library.

Elsewhere, at another university, Anderson might go home between classes.

Not here.

Anderson’s drives 45 minutes to IUS from her home in Seymour. She usually finds a spot at IUS to rest and wait for her next class.

“I’d love for them to have dorms around here,” Anderson said.

She may get her wish.

IU Southeast is a step closer to student housing. The IU Board of Trustees on Friday approved a plan to provide on campus housing for 403 students. The plan also must be approved by the Commission for Higher Education and the State Budget Committee.

With their consent, IUS officials would open residence halls by fall 2008.

“This is the second-biggest thing that has happened to this university,” next to moving to its Grant Line Road campus, IUS Chancellor Sandra Patterson-Randles said on Tuesday.

Residence halls will make IUS a “full-service” university, she said.

The project will increase enrollment and improve academics by giving students the opportunity to immerse themselves in an academic environment, she said.

“The students are going to be more engaged,” Patterson-Randles said.

The residence halls are expected to improve student retention and IUS’ graduation rate, she said.

Also, alumni who had lived on campus would likely have strong ties to the university, spokeswoman Cindy Hess said on Tuesday.

“People just have a different attitude about a university when you have a residential campus,” Patterson-Randles said.

Five two-story “lodge concept” buildings would be constructed on campus around the lake, behind the University Center. The buildings — three with 87 residents and two with 71 residents — would have apartments of four bedrooms and two bathrooms or two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The buildings would have common spaces for students to meet.

The project would cost about $20 million and would be funded through revenue bonds, paid off with rent from tenants. The cost to students for a spot in the residence halls has not yet been determined, Patterson-Randles said.

A later second phase would upgrade IUS to 703 occupants.

IUS conducted a feasibility student this summer that found the university could support 700 residences. IUS leaders presented their study last month to IU administrators, including President Adam Herbert.

The plan includes hiring new staff, including an on-campus housing director and additional police, Patterson-Randles said.

More parking would be added on campus.

IUS officials have sought residence halls since 1988. Their efforts were stymied until the IU Board of Trustees this summer created a process for regional campuses to establish residential buildings. The trustees in September approved a plan similar to IUS’ by IU South Bend.

The trustees approved the IUS plan 8-0.

Their approval stems from IUS’ enrollment growth and the number of students who travel long distances to the campus, said Larry MacIntyre, a spokesman for IU.

“The board looked at each campus individually and determines their needs,” he said.

Caitlynn Thompson, a freshman from Seymour, won’t be at IUS long enough to live on campus. She’s planning to transfer to IU Bloomington or Western Kentucky University.

Thompson is frustrated with the campus community.

“It’s just boring,” said Thompson, sitting in the Buffalo Madison Coffee Company in the IUS Library. “It’s a commuter school; there’s no excitement around here.”

Anderson, waiting for her next class, said she’d consider living on the IUS campus. She agreed that residential buildings would improve the campus community.

“I don’t know anybody down here,” said Anderson, a freshman.

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