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Enrollment increase causes crowding

October 2, 2008

For the past three years, overcrowding in the residence halls has been an ongoing problem. There are approximately 200 overflow spaces that were converted into rooms for students, and 130 students are still assigned to them.

This results in study lounges turning into rooms for up to six people, and resident assistants, who previously had the luxury of having their own rooms, are now being forced to share. It is estimated that 20 students will leave campus as a result of the overcrowding in the dorms.

“Students decide to commute or go to a different school once they find out,” Jason Neuhaus, residential life west area coordinator, said.

Students are placed in study lounges located on each floor until they are moved into permanent housing. Lounges may start out with six people living in them, but typically three or four students stay for the entire semester. Students are placed into permanent housing once rooms become available due to other students leaving.

“Probably five to ten percent of students move off campus, transfer or get suspended within the first semester,” Neuhaus said.

RAs are also experiencing inconvenience because of the overflow. In the past, RAs were given their own rooms, but for the last three years they have been required to share with other students. The rooms are assigned based on ranking of how long they have been an RA and their age.

“RAs value their personal space 10 times more because you are always, always in a fish bowl,” Johnson Hall RA Alyse Good said. “I didn’t mind having a roommate last year, but I really appreciate having my own room this year.”

Students are hesitant about being placed with RAs as well.

They tend to have negative stigmas towards the RAs, Good said.

“I was really reluctant on how living with a RA would affect meeting people, but it didn’t make me change my mind about coming here. It was different living with an RA at first,” Elizabeth Moos, Good’s roommate last year said.

Moos was a transfer student and placed into temporary housing last year. For the students it is also hard because they get to know everyone on their wing and have to move to completely different building once they are placed in a permanent room, Good said.

Roommates given to RAs can be placed into permanent housing before classes begin first semester, otherwise it takes about a month. Once a room opens up for the student the RA has to decide if they want to continue with a roommate.

“Luckily Alyse became close, to the point where I had the option to move out, but the both of us decided that we wanted to stay with each other,” Moos said.

According to Kristie Feist , residential life assistant director-community development and education, said plans are being made to build an addition to South Fork Suites adding 240 beds to help with the overflow issue. The addition is expected to be completed by 2011.