Despite new halls, students await housing

Andrew Tellijohn

Surrounded by a fireplace, a spacious living room and several windows overlooking campus, three students spend Saturday afternoons studying and listening to the radio.
“I guess the only downside is there’s no sink and no mirrors,” said Jeff Lokken, a freshman living in a Comstock Hall study lounge converted into a dorm room.
Lokken is one of 251 students, mostly freshmen, who are living in temporary quarters because of overcrowding in the University residence halls.
This year 70 percent of the 4,100 incoming freshmen requested to live on campus.
“We know that it’s going to happen if they (the University) admit a lot of students,” said Nancy Lee, assistant director for Administration and Operations in Housing and Residential Life.
“This year we were better prepared, and hopefully next year we’ll be even better prepared.”
This is the second year the residence halls have guaranteed rooms to incoming freshmen whose applications are received by the May 1 deadline.
Last year, the shortage of space forced the University to house about 40 students at the local Days Inn hotel.
One of the main reasons for overcrowded residence halls is that some students do not move into their reserved rooms in the fall. Until housing receives no-show lists, which list rooms that had been assigned but were never claimed, these rooms cannot be reassigned.
Mary Ann Ryan, director of Housing and Residential Life, said housing administration should have received the lists sometime last week.
Ryan and Lee both stressed that the situation is temporary. In about a month students should be placed in permanent rooms, Lee said.
“(Temporary housing) is not something by any means that lasts a long time,” Lee said.
This past summer two new housing facilities were built on campus to alleviate overcrowding.
Roy Wilkins Hall, located next to Sanford Hall, is an upperclassmen residence hall that houses 126 students. Argyle House, an off-campus apartment building owned by Dinnaken Properties Inc., houses 170 freshmen and sophomore students involved in Residential College Program.
Lokken said he considered himself lucky to even get into a residence hall because he returned his housing application so close to the May 1 deadline. Other people he talked to submitted their information in January and February, he said.
Students usually handle the temporary housing situation fairly well, said Guy Piotrowski, administrative aide for contracts and assignments.
“I haven’t had a lot of yelling phone calls,” Piotrowski said. “Most students aren’t that upset.”
Lokken said his parents were more concerned about his situation than he was.
“Actually, my mom was the one that kept calling to find out when I’d get a permanent spot.”
One of Lokken’s two roommates, Colin Kerelchuk, arrived at the room Friday night and said he was surprised at how spacious it was.
“I expected it to be really tight and cramped,” he said. “It’s fine for now.”
Occasionally there may be a shortage of rods to hang clothing on, or a room may be short a desk, but the converted lounges and study areas are furnished the same way as the permanent rooms.
“It is really no different than any other room,” Lee said.
The benefits students get from living in the residence halls outweigh any inconveniences they endure, Ryan said.
“It increases the whole connection between living and learning,” she said. “Statistics will show you that students who live on campus have higher retention, maintain higher grade-point averages and graduate sooner than students who commute.”
Students say living in temporary housing is not as bad as they expected it to be, Piotrowski said.
“They just say they want to move into a permanent space as soon as possible,” he said.