When Silvia Kat Roa ’15 saw her housing assignment over the summer, she was a bit surprised, to say the least. Her e-portfolio revealed that she was one of the 276 incoming freshmen who had been assigned to a triple.
“Originally I wanted a single, but [another student I met at WesFest] really wanted me to be her roommate and we were hoping to get a two-room double in the Nics,” she said. “My sister started college last year and she said it would be better to have a roommate, but then I got a triple and I was like, ‘oh my god.’”
Although Roa was eventually moved into a single, more than 250 freshmen remain in triples. The class of 2015 boasts the largest number of students in the University’s history, with 815 students or about 100 more than the class of 2012. While the Office of Admissions accepted applicants at a rate on target with the class of 2014—aiming for a class size of 745—enrollment rates increased drastically from the previous year.
“We started meeting as soon as we saw this [high enrollment rate] happening—right after May 1,” said Director of Residential Life (ResLife) Fran Koerting. “We know this is a good thing and we want to make it a good thing for the students.”
Although ResLife administrators had looked into tripling rooms in Fauver in past years and discarded the idea, with the addition of almost 100 extra bodies to house, the idea was reexamined. The administrators considered multiple plans and decided that they could fit three sets of furniture into each room if tripled freshman shared two closets. They converted 59 of the 80 rooms in Fauver, all of the large corner rooms in Clark, and one unusually large room in West College (WestCo) into triples, thereby reducing the number of triples in the Butterfields from 30 to 12.
ResLife also focused on ways to help freshmen in triples cope with their living situations by reconverting former lounges-turned rooms back into study spaces to provide more common space, adding two additional Resident Advisers (RAs) to Fauver, and stressing the importance of roommate contracts.
“In all honesty, we’re not going to be able to de-triple all these triples,” Koerting said, referring to ResLife’s promise in past years to move any freshmen out of triples who wish to be moved.
While this might be a disappointment to some freshmen, many have already found the positive side to living in a triple and plan to stick with it.
“At first I was like, ‘Oh, it’s a bummer,’” said Alex Rachlin ’15. “I wanted a double, and I got a triple because of the error that was made of over enrolling. But then there is always the positive side: I’d have two quick new friends. And it’s actually been a lot better than I expected—it’s easier to pay for things for the room and we each have something to contribute. I think for the most part, most people like their triples, which is a surprise because so many people were complaining on the [WesAdmits 2015] Facebook group.”
Yet the big question on many students’ minds is not about freshman triples but about what will happen as the class of 2015 rises: will ResLife be able to accommodate 100 more sophomores, juniors, and seniors?
According to Koerting, the answer is yes. Based on typical rates of attrition and plans to build and convert more bedrooms, ResLife anticipates being able to house the class of 2015 in class-appropriate housing in the coming years.
“That’s our plan,” she said. “If we find more common spaces [that can be turned into bedrooms], converting graduate housing if the demand for it continues to decrease, and any rental properties it might make sense to convert.”
As of now, there are several plans on the table to add more housing. The most significant one is the conversion of the spaces in the Butterfields currently housing the Career Center and the College of Letters into bedrooms when those departments move into their new home in the old squash court building.
A committee of students is helping ResLife to design the future of the new residential spaces in the Butterfields. Amongst the potential additions are a new laundry room located outside the tunnels, a kitchen for each Butterfield building instead of one for all three, and more study space. ResLife anticipates adding 60 new beds when the construction project is complete at the end of next summer.
They are hoping to add more doubles in order to meet incoming freshmen’s requests for double rooms as well as to open up more singles for sophomores on all-sophomore halls.
Additionally, ResLife has converted some lesser-known two-room singles in Malcolm X House into separate one-room singles, added bedrooms to several senior houses, and converted unused graduate and rental houses owned by the University into undergraduate housing, which opens up a total of 22 new spaces.
“We’re always looking to see where we can make these changes,” Koerting said. “We really want to make sure there are enough senior-appropriate spaces.”
As ResLife continues to keep an eye out for ways to accommodate the new freshmen over the next four years, Koerting said they have been impressed with the positivity of the students.
“This class seems to be going in with the mindset that it’s a good experience,” she said. “There are always a few students who say they’re concerned, but considering we had 276 students who got assigned to triples, they’re really going in with a positive attitude.”