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Halls struggle to fit returning students

Mel Flanagan | Wednesday, March 30, 2011


After living away from Notre Dame for four months, students planning to study abroad next fall may not be able to return to their current homes on campus for the Spring Semester. 
Problems arise when a residence hall has a greater number of students going abroad in the fall than the spring. With a limited number of rooms opening up in the spring, halls cannot guarantee accommodations to all returning residents. 
Jeffery Shoup, director of Residence Life and Housing, said this problem is not uncommon.
“Every spring there are a few dorms where there are more students returning from abroad than who are leaving,” he said. “[Next year], it is likely that a few halls will have this issue.”
Pangborn is one dorm currently attempting to resolve the issue. With 24 residents traveling abroad in the fall and only 14 departing in the spring, the hall will likely have to turn 10 students away.
Lisa Edwards, a sophomore from Pangborn who will be studying in Dublin in the fall, said her dorm organized a random lottery with the 24 girls who will be gone first semester. The top 14 will be able to return to Pangborn, but the remaining 10 will have to find other housing.
Edwards received a number in the bottom ten.
“It’s understandable that it all happens, but it’s just a bummer,” she said. “Dorm life is such an important part here, and now there’s no way to possibly get back into your own dorm.”
Betsy McGovern, another sophomore in the bottom 10 of the lottery, said Pangborn’s rector, Sister Mary, indicated she will try to take the girls’ wishes into consideration.
“Because of its proximity to Pangborn, I would prefer to live in McGlinn,” McGovern said. “My rectress will help me and the other nine girls figure out a rooming situation that best suits us.”
If McGovern or the other nine Pangborn students wish to remain on South Quad, Badin Hall could be a potential home for the spring.
Sr. Denise Lyon, rector of Badin, said only three girls from her hall will be going abroad in the fall, compared with 12 or 14 leaving in the spring. These numbers are similar to those of past years.
“It’s been a coincidence that many more go in the spring than go in the fall, so Badin does indeed take in people who can’t get back into their own hall,” she said.
Although Sister Denise generally tries to resolve rooming for next spring this year, she said many rectors wait until fall since students’ plans often change.
“Just because you don’t have room now doesn’t mean it’s not going to open up in the fall either,” she said.
“And that happens quite often — that right now it looks like there’s not going to be enough rooms and come the fall there are enough rooms.”
McGovern said she is frustrated that she may not know her living situation until she returns from Dublin in the spring. However, she is planning on spending a great deal of her time in Pangborn regardless of where she lives.
“I love my dorm and the people in it so much,” she said. “I don’t want to drift away from the connection I have to my dorm now.”
Kat Wilson, another Pangborn sophomore who will not be able to return to her dorm after a semester in Fremantle, Australia, said she understands housing planning can be complex, especially since Pangborn is one of the smaller female dorms.
“I honestly have no idea where I am going to be living in the fall,” Wilson said. “But as long as I am guaranteed to live on campus, I’ll be happy.”