Universities face overcrowding nationwide

AU students suffering from the shortage of on-campus housing are not alone. Many campuses in the D.C. area and across the country are facing similar problems of overcrowding.

One of the most famous cases of overcrowding this year has come from Northeastern University in Boston. The university accepted 3,400 freshmen when the maximum is usually 2,800.

"No one has really confirmed the exact reason" for the extra number of freshmen that were accepted, Mike Trocchi, student editor of the Northeastern News, said.

Northeastern's president attributed the housing crunch to the school's growing popularity. Students like Trocchi, however, think that this error might have been caused by a computer glitch that the administration is not willing to admit.

In Boston, like in D.C., limited real estate is available for off-campus housing. A recent article in The Boston Globe reported that there is less than 1 percent vacancy in apartments. This means many upperclassmen chose to live on campus.

Putting students in lounges is not enough for so many students, so Northeastern has resorted to housing students in two area colleges and on two floors of the local YMCA, Trocchi said.

Overcrowding in residence halls extends to every corner of the country and the problem is bound to get worse. A report recently issued by the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that a large increase is expected in college enrollment during the next decade.

"Projections of Education Statistics to 2010" estimates that 15.1 million students are attending undergraduate or graduate school this fall. By 2010 this figure is expected to grow to 17.5 million.

Even though most universities have more minor housing problems, many find themselves accommodating students in unconventional ways.

George Washington University has faced overflow in the past, but this year resorted to using study lounges and suites in the State Plaza Hotel to house 60 freshmen. GW's first priority is to move the students out of the hotel rooms, which they hope to do by Sunday, the GW Hatchet reported.

Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. was forced to convert 250 double rooms into triples due to the overflow of freshmen and renovations that closed a residence hall.

They have also converted a residence hall that used to be all single occupancy rooms into double occupancy, said Director of Residential Life Mary Ellen Linn.

A problem like this has not happened in the campus since 1989, when they had to create 243 triples, she said. Indiana State is not in as big of a crunch as Indiana University in Bloomington, however, where they are housing students in lounges, Linn said.

Over the summer Linn attended a conference of the Association of College University Housing International and there were several sessions on overcrowding.

In one conference there were "60 people from different colleges and universities... everyone in the room was expecting overflow," Linn said.

To some universities, overflow in great numbers is not new. These schools are taking steps to prevent the problems from continuing.

The University of Maryland has faced overcrowding for the past two years, Angela Kim, a student at U-Md., said.

In the beginning, U-Md. housed overflow in a Quality Inn nearby. Now, this hotel has been converted into a residence hall with Ethernet connections and resident assistants on every floor.

Another way U-Md. is dealing with the overflow is by contracting companies to build apartment buildings off campus that will be filled by students.

All of this, however, has not been enough to deal with the increased enrollment so double rooms are still being converted into triples, Kim said.

The University of Houston has been forced to house between 200 and 300 people in lounges until spaces open up, the Daily Cougar reported.

"It has happened every year," Chris Holly a senior at UH said.

The problem is that there are "no apartment complexes right near campus ... closest one is two miles away," he said.

To deal with this problem UH will begin to build a new residence hall, which should be ready by fall 2001.

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