Housing demand exceeds University supply

William Evans

Housing and Residential Communities has been forced to wait list students who desire on-campus housing contracts for next year so as to preserve space for students who are most in need of the benefits of on-campus living, said Alicia Browne, associate director of information and communication for HRC.

The proposed Magnolia Development for sorority housing behind the President’s Mansion will lead to the elimination of Wilson, Byrd, Parker-Adams and New Hall. Because of this, space for on-campus housing has become scarce.

Spencer Davis, a freshman majoring in general health studies, said new housing construction to accommodate for the rise in enrollment diverts funds from existing campus programs and buildings.

“I think what we have right now is a good size,” he said. “The money that is going to new housing could go to new technology or buildings that already exist.”

In fall 2010, HRC discerned that demand for on-campus housing would exceed the supply of 7,700 residential beds for the upcoming academic year, Browne said.

After accommodating for incoming freshmen who are required to live on campus, HRC prioritized housing contracts by a number of factors.

“We … made sure to protect space for students who receive housing scholarships, since their money cannot be used off campus,” Browne said. “We also needed to protect space for students with medical needs; those participating in a living-learning community (which, of course, cannot be replicated off campus); and students coming for a short-term program, such as those offered by the English Language Institute.”

HRC engineered its wait lists in descending order of seniority.

“We began the wait list with those students best prepared to move off campus, meaning current graduate students, then current seniors, then current juniors and finally current sophomores,” she said. “As we remove students from the waiting list, we will begin with current sophomores, and then, as space permits, move to current juniors, and then seniors, if possible.”

No current freshmen were wait listed.

“We only wait listed the number of students that we needed to, based on anticipated space, and that number was achieved before needing to wait list any current freshmen,” Browne said.

HRC will convert Rose Towers into a freshman-only residence hall in the 2011-2012 school year to maximize the use of space, Browne said, and the majority of the building’s apartments will return to housing four residents in rooms called ‘quads.’

“This change in Rose Towers has helped us to add additional spaces to our capacity,” she said. “The apartments have been for four students in the past, and occupancy was reduced to three per apartment when there was less demand for campus housing. The floors that have freshmen have apartments that are quads right now.”

Onatome Tasker, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said the University should exercise caution with moving students off campus since prospective students who favor living on campus throughout college might choose to enroll elsewhere.

“I do think the students need more housing if the University is going to increase the number of students coming here,” he said.