UConn faces freshman housing shortage
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 01:09
With a high freshmen enrollment rate for 2013 and an impending increase in class size, UConn is struggling to house all of its students.
The last few years have been rocky for UConn Residential Life, as they have struggled to find a dorm for every student. The 2011 fall semester had freshmen living with resident assistants, who are normally awarded single rooms. Since then, beds were added wherever possible. This past semester, it became publicly known that more housing applications were submitted than could possibly be filled. UConn housing services had to turn to alternative measures to accommodate students. Emails were also sent to residents over the summer with incentives to withdraw from on campus housing. A refund on the room reservation fee and waivers on housing cancellation fees were offered.
“We were able to house everybody who was guaranteed it,” said PamelaSchipani, Interim Director of Residential Life. This includes incoming freshmen, transfer students and continuing students with eight or fewer semesters. The only students who did not receive housing were those on the waiting list. This would apply to readmitted students, fifth-year students and those who did not pay the room reservation fee. Schipani said housing services did not sidestep the housing contract, although freshmen have been placed in unfit locations. Several are living in Northwood Apartments, a complex intended for graduate students and upperclassmen. The university also had to contract with the Nathan Hale Inn, where 50 students are currently residing.
Brendan Bolduc, a first semester business major living in the Nathan Hale, considers himself fortunate. “I love it, honesty. I really lucked out. A maid cleans our rooms twice a week, and we have access to the pool and gym.” Living at the Nathan Hale grants a number of perks which are fantasies to most freshmen, including each room having a bathroom. “With the people I’ve talked to, the general feeling is that this is a lot better than a traditional dorm room. It’s bigger and has air conditioning.”
One major reason for the shortage on space is the unexpected size of the class of 2017. According to the Hartford Courant, 300 more accepted freshmen enrolled at UConn than anticipated. “We didn’t admit more people, more people just said yes,” said Schipani, which she attributes to UConn’s strong national reputation and excitement over the Next Generation Connecticut Project. The project will involve the enrollment of 6,500 more students over the course of a decade, which means incoming class sizes will increase by the hundreds.
There is a provision to build a new residence hall within the next few years, however a location has not been finalized, and it is unknown when construction will begin. Schipani said Residential Life should be able to accommodate the increase in class size due to outgoing students and a high turnover towards off campus housing. “I am not sure that the increased class size is going to hit us yet to the point where we will have to take action,” said Schipani. The most likely course would be to institute a lottery system for juniors and seniors, which was last performed in 2007.