By Auzinea Bacon

On Sept. 30, the University of Maryland (UMD) dedicated its newest residence for students, Johnson-Whittle Hall, in the newly constructed Heritage Community. The hall is named for Elaine Johnson Coates, the first African American woman to earn an undergraduate degree at the university, and Hiram Whittle, the first African American man admitted to the university, in 1951.

Glenise Whittle, the late Hiram Whittle’s niece, and Elaine Johnson Coates, at the dedication of Johnson-Whittle Hall.
Courtesy of the University of Maryland

Johnson-Whittle Hall is evidence of the university’s TerrapinSTRONG initiative, which strives to uphold and celebrate the university’s traditions of inclusivity and diversity. The building joins two others in the Heritage Community: the Pyon-Chen residence hall and Yanhentamitsi Dining Hall. Johnson-Whittle Hall houses 450 students.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the university’s honor, recognition and promotion of diversity and inclusion,” Johnson Coates said at the dedication. 

Johnson-Whittle Hall offers amenities that are more similar to luxury apartments than most of the other residence halls on campus. Each floor has lounges and study spaces, laundry facilities, and bathrooms with private rooms for showers and toilets.

Housing prices at the university fluctuate, depending on the type of room, number of occupants and whether a unit has amenities — even what could be considered basic amenities like air conditioning. A double room at Johnson-Whittle costs about $9,000 this year. In other campus housing, a private room and bath may cost more than $12,500.

Students aren’t guaranteed on-campus housing after their freshman year, though, and off-campus housing is in high demand. The Nine and Tempo College Park opened this fall to offer more affordable student housing. Rents in Terrapin Row range from a low of around $1,300 to a high of $1,440, depending on size, degree of furnishing and amenities, whereas rents at either off-campus complex would range from $1,039 to $1,150.

While these complexes bill themselves as upscale, some residents question that claim.

Sobechi Nwankwo, a junior microbiology major, has an apartment on the sixth floor of the Nine and said that the elevators are regularly broken. She also complained that the facility isn’t cleaned on a regular basis and that the trash rooms are frequently dirty. 

Mia Lulli, a junior Spanish and psychology double major,  said that Tempo didn’t live up to its billing, and that some promised furnishings weren’t provided at move-in. She also noted that the complex, which opened to residents this fall, was not fully ready for residents when she moved in.

Amenities, location and cost are all important factors as students consider living off-campus after their freshman year. The university understands that searching for housing can be complicated and offers tools to help students in this process, including a database listing available housing. For more information, go to