Crowding lands some in lounges

by Coralie Carlson

University officials expect this year’s crop of freshmen to burst the seams of residence halls, landing about 500 students in hotel rooms and study lounges until permanent space opens up.
University officials expect 4,900 freshmen to crowd onto campus this fall, exceeding the target class size by 215 students.
More than 80 percent of these students applied for campus housing, up from 76 percent last year, causing the crunch for space. As a result, twice as many students will live in makeshift housing this year than last.
“It’s a good problem, but it does put a strain on the system,” said Wayne Sigler, director of admissions.
University officials will place the extra students in the Days Inn at 2407 University Ave. S.E. or converted study rooms until permanent rooms open up. Comstock, Sanford and Bailey halls will bear the brunt of excess students.
“In the past, most students have been comfortable with the arrangements,” said Mary Ann Ryan, director of Housing and Residential Life in the office of admissions.
Ryan said she hopes to move about 300 students into permanent housing by the end of fall quarter and another 200 students by the end of winter quarter. Typically, residence hall officials place students into permanent housing before winter quarter.
Students who don’t claim their room by the first day of class will forfeit it to the next person on the waiting list. Another wave of rooms usually opens up during Greek rush, when students relocate into sorority and fraternity houses. More students usually leave the residence halls between fall and winter quarters.
Ryan said she’s also working with the cafeteria services to accommodate the influx of students.
“We’re going into it with all new hours and expanded hours,” Ryan said.
Cafeteria staff members plan to gauge the lines after the first few weeks and adjust their hours accordingly, Ryan explained.
Bryan Jackson, a freshman who will live in Sanford this fall, said he is worried about crowded computer labs in the residence halls.
“I’m just going to have to adapt to the situation,” Jackson said.
University officials plan to explore different alternatives to increase future campus housing space, including adding wings or floors onto residence halls, increasing the capacity of existing rooms and investigating other housing in the neighborhood, like the Argyle House campus apartments.
Construction begins this October on a new residence hall behind Coffman Memorial Union, scheduled for completion by fall of 2000, to avoid upcoming housing shortages.
Until University officials find alternative space, the school may pare down the size of its freshman class. Sigler said trimming the size of the next year’s freshman class has been discussed.
Despite current overflow problems, the University will still offer the housing guarantee in 1999.
“We’re not backing off,” Sigler said.
Many new freshmen agreed that guaranteed campus housing was fair, even if some students find themselves in temporary lodgings.
“As long as you’re staying somewhere, it’s not about where you’re staying,” Jackson said. “It’s about your education.”