Why can’t WSU figure out The Flats?


Matt Crow

An employee at The Flats reported that mulch on the west end of the building was smoldering Saturday afternoon.

Wichita State can’t get its story straight about The Flats.

University police filed a report of a “loud party with alcohol present” at the Flats on Sept. 10. The university showed inconsistency with The Flats website, listing policies that conflict with those WSU intends to enforce.

UPD Captain Guy Schroeder said UPD was told to treat The Flats the same as Shocker Hall, where alcohol consumption and possession are prohibited. Mandy Hambleton, assistant vice president for student advocacy, intervention, and accountability, said alcohol possession and consumption is prohibited in The Flats.

But, The Flats website offered a different policy, suggesting that students over the age of 21 are allowed to consume alcohol in their apartments, just not in public areas or in the presence of students under 21. This was not clear from the start.

In mid-July, WSU announced they would be closing Fairmount Towers and relocating those who reserved a space to The Flats. At the time, the impression was that MWCB, LLC, a private developer, would privately lease the complex. David Murfin, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, is part owner of MWCB, LLC. About a week and a half after the announcement that those students would be housed in The Flats, WSU suggested MWCB, LLC let them run The Flats like a dorm.

Approval for the lease agreement, which was required before the university could move forward, came 17 days after WSU announced the decision to close Fairmount Towers. Agreements for WSU to lease The Flats were made less than three weeks before the university’s move-in day on Aug. 19.

Yet, as WSU moved forward with the deal — a rushed effort — time wasn’t taken to determine conclusively how the facility would be managed. Less than a month after opening, we have our first example of inconsistency.

WSU clearly moved too quickly to establish any confirmation of policies.

The Flats were originally set to be available for students and non-students. After WSU insisted on closing Fairmount Towers, leasing became available to students only. WSU determined they would keep policies for The Flats congruent with Shocker Hall, prohibiting alcohol from being present in any of the apartments.

Before WSU announced the shutdown of Fairmount Towers, there were too many questions surrounding how a private complex sponsored by the university would run. Today, those questions are yet to be answered.