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Crowding squeezes freshmen

Amanda Michaels | Sunday, August 22, 2004

Almost 70 freshmen had a dubious welcome this week, as they found themselves cramming their carloads into spaces smaller than the average shoebox-size room.Due to rising numbers of both seniors staying on campus and accepted female freshman, most women’s dorms faced an overcrowding crisis this year. Subsequently, the Office of Residence Life was forced to convert every available study lounge into an inhabitable space, and raise many double occupancy rooms to triples. “We’ve had this problem in the past, and it’s about the same this year for the men, but it’s more pronounced in the women’s dorms this year,” director of the Office of Residence Life and Housing Jeff Shoup said. “The men still have a few lounges available, but for the women, we’ve had to use study lounges we’ve never used before for new student housing, and had to bump many rooms to an occupancy level that they haven’t been at for a few years.”Because room sizes vary markedly from hall to hall, ResLife had to go through each lounge individually to determine whether they could be converted, or if there was space for another set of furniture. “We wanted it to be a situation where we could easily convert the room back, so you have to make minimal changes while making it a livable space,” Shoup said. “It was generally pretty easy, because you add an extra set of furniture, and put a little bit of work into the built-in carrels.”Walsh and Breen-Phillips were the only two women’s halls to escape the crunch, explained Shoup, but only because the size and configuration of the rooms made the changes impossible.The former study lounges are, on average, smaller than normal rooms and lack sinks, so many were set aside for upperclassmen who floated for a single. Shoup said freshmen are more likely to end up in increased occupancy rooms, though without their hall staff informing them of their situation, they won’t know the difference. Response from the rectors have been mixed, said Shoup, with some expressing significant concerns about stretching space to the limit, and others accepting the fact there is no other feasible option.”I’m not any more concerned than I was last year when my study lounges were converted, but we’ll deal with it,” Welsh Family rector Candace Carson said. “You know what they say, the more the merrier.”