East Campus: ready in time?
Construction delays could lead to student housing headaches
Returning students planning to live in the three new East Campus residence halls this coming fall may not be able move into those dorms before the semester begins. The buildings, originally scheduled to open in August 2016, will possibly be delayed in opening until later in the fall semester according to Christopher Moody, assistant vice president of Housing and Dining Programs. Moody did not give a specific opening date for East Campus, but said he will know within the next two months.
Until East Campus is ready, dormitories on the main campus will provide one “offline floor”, or a floor that is typically used to house first year students, to temporarily house residents intending to live on East Campus, according to Moody. Those dormitories will potentially include Anderson, Centennial, Clark, Letts, Hughes and Leonard Halls. The temporary rooms will each house two sophomores, or for students seeking a lower priced option, three sophomores.
In the meantime, first-year students will live in triples in the remaining unoccupied rooms in first year dorms. Once the East Campus buildings are complete, HDP will provide moving services to relocate those sophomores to their intended halls. First-year students living in temporary triples will then be de-tripled to the units vacated by the sophomore students.
“Students who meet the housing application deadlines are confirmed a space,” Moody said. “That includes returning students who meet application deadlines up to our lottery capacity and then new first-year students who deposit by May 1. We’ll be able to confirm that they have a space, but we won’t be able to confirm what kind of space or where beyond that until students actually get into the process and make their own choices.”
The residence halls on East Campus, named Federal, Constitution and Congressional Hall, will include 590 beds in total, with each room containing two beds and one bathroom, according to Robert van Hoek, the project’s manager. Those buildings are intended to house sophomores, according to the Room Selection Guide released by HDP to the student body. There will also be two academic and administrative buildings connected to each other.
Those buildings will provide additional instructional and office space for the School of Communication and the Mathematics and Statistics, Computer Science and Physics departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. East Campus will also include an underground parking garage according to the East Campus Fact Sheet posted on the University’s website regarding East Campus.
Prior to the start of the 2015-2016 academic year, HDP expected to house 1600 students from the class of 2019 according to Moody. HDP instead provided housing for 1780 freshmen this past August. HDP anticipates 1700 first-year students for the class of 2020, according to Moody.
According to Lisa Freeman, Director of Residence Life, HDP will be turning Centennial Hall into a freshman dormitory, which will keep the number of freshmen living in triples at relatively the same level as the 2015-2016 academic year. At the start of this academic year, 330 rooms on campus acted as triples. That number has since decreased to 150 rooms as students have been de-tripled.
“We had hoped that East Campus, if it had been ready, we would have been able to reduce down the number of triples that new students would live in,” Moody said. “But we’re going to have to stick to a high number again until East Campus does open. We will triple about the same extent that we did this year.”
For incoming juniors and seniors, 400 on campus spaces will be available as in previous years. In the past two previous years, HDP has been able to accommodate additional upperclassmen students who have not made it into those 400 on campus spaces and have been placed on the housing waitlist. However, Moody anticipates that they will not be able to house students on the waiting list this coming academic year due to predictions that HDP will need to house a large number of first and second year students.
According to the HDP website, the housing process requires three mandatory phases: a housing application, selection of a “group name” and room selection. Students interested in on campus housing should have already filled out the initial housing application by Jan. 29. They will then form a group of roommates, name the group and elect a leader of their group by Feb. 19. Each group will then be assigned a specific date and time to select a room from available housing between Feb. 24 and March 2.
With the current number of available beds compared to the estimated number of students who would like on campus housing, Moody anticipates that approximately 50-60 students will not obtain a space in the room selection process, which he doesn’t consider to be “unusual.” Those students will then fill out a pending preference form, which includes preferred roommates and residence hall.
“There’s lots of people that make decisions after the first selection process that open up space,” Moody said. “We were done with the pending assignments list by early May last year. If in the third step someone doesn’t commit to a room or we run out of room, the third step for them becomes filling out that pending preference form.”
Chelsea Cirruzzo, a current RA in Hughes Hall who intends to obtain another RA position next academic year, believes that once East Campus opens, the area will develop a communal feel similar to that of South Campus for freshmen.
For the incoming freshman housed in triples, Cirruzzo believes that RAs will need to apply their training specifically to assist those students struggling with difficulties surrounding living with two other students.
“I think that the school should just be transparent with the fact that people are going to be tripled at first,” Cirruzzo said. “I think there should be additional resources to accommodate those people, because sometimes tripling is not okay for a lot of people. It can be really frustrating for them. It can cause conflict sometimes. I think that the school should be open about that to them and provide the resources they need.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Chelsea Cirruzzo's name. This version has been updated to reflect that change.