The unexpectedly large number of students who applied for on-campus housing last year, combined with the shortage of housing for juniors, startled administrators. This year, it is clear that overcrowding is becoming a trend, worrying residential college deans and students alike.
The most likely explanation for overcrowding is a decrease in the number of students living off campus and a subsequent increase in students living in the colleges, said John Meeske, associate dean for physical resources and planning, who is in charge of overseeing undergraduate student housing. Most colleges have already been assigned annex buildings, either in on-campus buildings or University-owned apartments nearby, he said.
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Though only a few colleges have completed their upperclassman housing draws, some residential college deans are already predicting the need for more space. The extent of that need varies among the colleges: Jonathan Edwards College might overflow even its annex housing, while in Trumbull College, the number of students choosing to live on campus remained steady.
For now, administrators have not arrived at a long-term solution, but Meeske said he will deal with issues of overcrowding in individual colleges after housing arrangements have been finalized.
Meeske said after the college renovations over the past several years, on-campus living could have become more appealing. Pierson College Dean Amerigo Fabbri said the current economic climate might be encouraging seniors to live on campus.
Meeske said he has been concerned about overcrowding in the colleges for a while, and though it has never happened before, it is always possible that overall some students might not have housing.
“We don’t have enough room to house all students on campus,” he said. “If the number of students living off-campus goes down, it’s conceivable that we might not have enough room. That’s never happened before but it’s conceivable one way or another.”
Though Jonathan Edwards has not yet held its housing draw, its housing committee predicts that, even with annex housing in McClellan Hall, there will not be enough space for everyone who wants to live on campus, JE housing committee member David Edwards ’12 said.
“It looks like about 10 to 20 more seniors are staying on campus this year,” Edwards said. “We will most likely overflow and have to get off-campus housing.”
Meeske anticipates that even Swing Space, which usually has extra space for annexed students, will be full. He said Ezra Stiles students, who will be staying in Swing Space next year while their college is renovated, have decided to live on campus in greater numbers than expected.
“There is a possibility that they might need annex space as well as Swing Space,” he said.
Trumbull, which was the first college to draw for housing, is annexing 20 rising juniors in Arnold Hall, Trumbull Dean Jasmina Besirevic-Regan said in an e-mail to Trumbull housing committee member Jake Eliasberg ’13. Sixty-seven of 122 rising juniors and 64 of 102 rising seniors plan to live on-campus, she said. (Besirevic-Regan did not return a request for comment.)
Eliasberg said the number of seniors living on campus this year was a little lower than last year, but still within the expected range.
Pierson College, whose rising seniors drew for housing Sunday afternoon, is annexing for the second time in many years, Fabbri said. This year, 10 people — two rising seniors and eight rising juniors — are being annexed in Harrison Court on Park Street, only one fewer than the number of people annexed last year, he said.
Usually, because only freshmen and sophomores are guaranteed housing by the University, and because residential colleges let seniors pick more desirable housing first, juniors are the ones relegated to annex housing. But Fabbri said both juniors and seniors have the option of living in Harrison Court, because it is considered desirable housing.
“It’s such a nice combination because it’s an apartment building, so some seniors are really intrigued by the idea,” he said.
About 62 additional Piersonites are planning to live off campus, which is slightly higher than last year’s number, Pierson housing committee member Michael Chao ’11 said.
Students interviewed said they have mixed feelings about being annexed, depending on the situation in their colleges.
Christina Lin ’11, a Pierson junior who will be annexed to Harrison Court next year, said she does not mind because the amenities in the apartment building are better than those in Pierson.
“I guess I’m OK with it,” she said. “I got last draw so I was expecting it. And I get a kitchen.”
She added that students in colleges whose annexed students live on campus might not be as happy with the situation.
Beanie Meadow ’11, a Saybrook student who will live in annex housing next year, said her college does not have a single building it uses for annexed students. Instead, annexed students live in whatever housing is left over after the other colleges have determined their housing, meaning that they will most likely be living separately from most of their class.
“It sucks most for Saybrook and other colleges where annexed people aren’t together,” Meadow said.
Correction: March 31, 2010
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misattributed the statement that overcrowding in the colleges has long been a concern and that there is always the possibility that some students might not get on-campus housing. It was John Meeske, associate dean for physical resources and planning, who made the statement, not Pierson College Dean Amerigo Fabbri.