Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

Dorms on campus overcrowded, over 30 rooms tripled

Posted on November 12, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

By Julie Pike

This year USM has experienced a 20 percent increase in enrollment from last year for housing. On the Gorham campus there has been overcrowding in the residential dorms to accommodate the 612 new residential students. The Office of Residential Life has created many triples in response to the overcrowding, which will serve to accommodate three students in a standard double room. Converted spaces such as lounges have also been made into large dorms.

Robert Stein, the executive director of Public Affairs, commented on the issue: “There are triples in the Gorham dorms on the account of the largest incoming freshman class in many years.We are expecting that that this is a one-year issue.”

There are currently 30 triples in traditional double rooms on the Gorham campus. Most of the triples reside in Upton Hastings, with some also in Woodward. Quad rooms, which house four students, have been created in the Anderson dormitory. These rooms have been converted from space previously used as student lounges.

“USM is looking to add additional housing on the Portland campus, that should take the strain off the demand for Gorham housing,” stated Stein. The new dorms are projected to take two to three years to complete.

A room on the third floor of Upton Hastings, which used to be a student lounge, was converted into a large dorm room. It can house up to six students, and currently five occupy it.

An older dormitory on the Gorham campus, Dickey Wood, was not considered to house students due to the high cost of renovations it requires. The two towers have been closed down since 2013.

“You have to consider if there is enough demand to warrant the need to open Dickey Wood,” stated Jason Saucier, director of Campus Life.

Housing for first year students was over occupancy by 60 students this year. Dickey Wood fits 400 students, and would not have been a good financial option to accommodate the high occupancy.

The Office of Residential Life first became aware of the major increase in enrollment in June. To help with the overcrowding they predicted, letters were sent out to new students to give them the option to volunteer to be in a triple.

It’s quite cramped living in a triple,” stated resident of Upton Hastings hall Nicole Lenentine, a freshman with an undecided major. “It’s hard to find space to put all of our stuff in here, but we manage to fit everything so I can’t really complain.” Lenentine was assigned to a triple this year, even though she did not volunteer to be. Her roommates were chosen randomly as well.

“We all get along well and we’ve managed to get all our stuff in here. It’s just a little cramped,” Lenentine added.

Although Lenentine did not have a choice of being housed in a triple, she stated that this experience would not put a damper on her experience at USM.

“I’d have to say that the downsides of living in a triple are worth it. I do plan to continue living on campus next semester,” Lenentine said.

Students who were placed into a triple received several incentives. For the fall semester, those students received $500 off of their housing fees, bringing their fees down to $2000 per semester. They are also given priority housing selection for the next year.

Vice President of Enrollment Services Nancy Griffin awarded students in a triple with priority class enrollment for the spring semester.

Saucier predicts that the triples will only last for one semester, and will be broken up by spring. This is due to students who may transfer, move off campus or study abroad.

“Through all of that we often see enough attrition in the halls to be able to break the existing triples down,” Saucier stated.

About whole process of creating triples and several large dorm rooms, Saucier remarked,“The whole process has gone really smoothly. No issues out of the norm have arisen from the overcrowding.”

The overcrowding in first year housing was due in part to the high increase in returning residential students. In the spring of 2015, approximately 450 students returned for housing. That number jumped to 555 this semester.

Returning students get priority housing over first-year students. With an increase in returning students, the number of rooms available for first years decreases.

“I think the housing market in Portland for the returning students is a huge challenge,” Saucier said. “I believe that has facilitated the increase in returning residential students.”

To move forward, USM is working on creating housing on the Portland campus.

A brochure created by Residential Life was sent out to all incoming students concerning the increased occupancy they would experience in the campus dorms

In this brochure, the following is  stated: “We believe it is important to provide a residential living and learning experience to all first year, transfer, and returning students who require or desire USM housing.”

Residential Life is continuing its work to ensure that all students are able to get housing. No student was turned away this year.

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