The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Residence halls filled at 104 percent capacity

Jenn Metz | Friday, August 31, 2007

Notre Dame’s on-campus housing crunch hasn’t gotten any better.

For students in dorms like Farley, study lounges have been converted into extra bedrooms due to overcrowding.

According to the Office of Residential Life and Housing, the University’s 27 residence halls are at 104.1 percent capacity, which means that 179 beds are squeezed into forced triples, forced doubles and converted study spaces in all 13 women’s dorms and most of the men’s residence halls.

Four of those extra beds are in the Farley first floor study lounge, room 115, and have been for at least three years, said Farley’s rector, Sister Carrine Etheridge.

One of the four girls in room 115, freshman Krissy Kemnetz, does not mind her living arrangement.

“It’s kind of crowded, but we managed to squeeze a futon and a fridge in there,” she said. “There’s really a lot of room in the basement, so the lounge isn’t that much of a loss, plus it’s nice to have more people on our floor.”

Scott Kachmarik, associate director of the Office of Residence Life and Housing, who began working at Notre Dame in the late 1990s, said the dorms have been above 100 percent capacity for the past five or six years. He reviewed data on dorm populations dating back to 1991-1992 and said at no time in those years were the residence halls below 96 percent capacity.

Notre Dame seems to be an anomaly when it comes to on-campus college dormitory living trends. Kachmarik said many universities would say their best year for students living on campus would be one where the dorms were at 96 percent capacity.

“We are very fortunate that students want to live in the halls,” he said.

Though the capacity numbers have gone up, the University’s population has not experienced a grand expansion in the last 10 or 15 years, he said.

“Last year, 100 more students enrolled than anticipated, and that adds to the overflow,” he said. “The impact of that overflow is felt in the residence halls, dining halls, classrooms and all places on campus.”

Though the dorms are crowded, Kachmarik does not believe that particular fact contributes to students’ decision to move off campus.

“Being at 104.1 percent capacity in the residences indicates that a good number of the upperclassmen are still here,” he said.

Kachmarik said it is mostly the freshmen and sophomores who have the least space, in general, and that the overcrowding affects them in particular. The juniors and seniors, under the seniority-based lottery system, get better room picks.

“Students tend to grit and bear it freshman and sophomore year, knowing they can get a better room configuration junior and senior year,” he said.

The University is in the process or building four new dormitories – one of which, Duncan Hall, is already under construction. These dorms will provide 1,000 new beds, and will help to alleviate the overflow experienced now.

Roughly 750 beds will be removed from the current 27 residence halls to reduce the overcrowding – this means beds from lounges, one room triples and crowded doubles. The net affect of the new dormitories will be 250 extra beds.

“This will help us to provide for more opportunities for students living on campus to keep living on campus and for other students to move onto campus,” Kachmarik said.

Etheridge said she hopes the addition of four more dorms – including two women’s dorms – will mean Farley is less crowded.

The demand for on campus living is still high, and currently 30 men and 30 women are on the waiting list to live on campus for the fall 2007 semester, Kachmarik said.

The new dorms will mean that, at some point, Farley residents will be able to reclaim their first-floor lounge, a computer room, a music room and two additional study lounges in the basement. The four basement rooms are four senior singles that share one bathroom – meaning one sink, one toilet and one shower.

“Even though we’re crowded, seniors still want to live here,” Etheridge said.

Of the 255 Farley residents, 53 are seniors.

“It reflects the spirit of the hall,” she said. “Students enjoy the residential experience of dorm life … they desire community, and will get cozy to have that.”