By Liz Trudel, Staff Writer
This semester many USM residential students have found themselves in an “enhanced occupancy” living predicament. USM’s surging applicant numbers have resulted in crowded living spaces, especially within the largest freshmen-designated building: Upton-Hastings Hall. Residential Life has placed three students in dorms built for two and six students in dorms built for four. Several classrooms within Upton-Hastings have even been utilized for housing in order to accommodate the influx of residential students.
Director of Housing and Residential Life, Christina Lowrey, stated, “In the fall of 2017, we had 1,240 students in housing. This fall we have 1,350 students in housing. That includes four new Resident Assistants, one new Academic Mentor, and a new professional Resident Director to support our increased student population.”
Lowrey stated that USM had 70 enhanced occupancy living spaces at the beginning of Fall 2017 and 160 enhanced occupancy spaces at the beginning of Fall 2018, placing the Gorham campus at 116 percent occupancy. The increase in enhanced occupancy rooms was offset by creating bed spaces in Woodward. Russell Scholars now has a new space on the first floor of Hastings. “They are a tremendous partner as they support their Living Learning Community. Three of their faculty were present on first-year move-in day, welcoming new students,” stated Lowrey.
On May 9, students received an email from Lowrey addressing the “housing crisis.” The email stated, “Housing will be very full, contributing to what we know will be a vibrant and active academic community. That said, we know some students have signed up for housing that may have or be pursuing other housing options. As such, we’d like to offer an incentive of $50 Husky Bucks to anyone who cancels their housing before June 1. The Husky Bucks would be applied within 48 hours of the cancellation.”
Students in an enhanced occupancy space receive a 20 percent discount on their room cost and the rate stays the same for the whole semester, even if the students are able to move to a standard occupancy room. The 20 percent discount deducts $500.00 from the $2,500.00 a semester that students would normally pay per semester for a double occupancy living space. Additionally, USM Residential Life states that students in enhanced occupancy rooms will receive priority course registration for the spring semester.
USM has partnered with Places4Students.com to provide students with off-campus housing listings. The website allows students to browse rental properties, search for roommates, and post or search for a sublet. USM offers the service as a convenience to the USM community but states that they have no ties or responsibilities in terms of the listings that are posted.
“The pros of living in a triple is that you have extra friends. Everyone takes turns buying food and you all get to share. It is also cool to have two different roommates with different majors and being able to make more friends through them,” states freshman Garett Nelson of Upton Hastings. He adds that the cons of living in a forced triple are that it can be hard to sleep with three people in one room if roommates want to do homework or have people over and their schedules conflict.
Riley Pratt, a sophomore mechanical engineer major, lives in a forced six-person suite in Upper Class.
“I like living with five others because I have more roommates and more people to kind of hang out with,” she said. “It’s nice to have more friends and there is always someone around to help you out when you need it.”
Pratt stated that the roommates are very conscious of each other’s schedules and work around each other when it comes to using the shower. She lives in a two bedroom suite with three girls in one bedroom. “Our dorm came with three dressers so we each got one. Also, the closets are big enough to where the three of us can share the two and still have extra space.”
Exercise science major, Matt Rhines from Upton-Hastings Hall stated, “living in a triple forces you to spend an excessive amount of time with two other individuals until they become your best friends.”
“The triple is pretty easy,” said Haley Donovan, a freshman psychology major from Upton-Hastings. “I have my own closet because I’m on the top bunk and the other two girls share a closet and split the drawers. We all have our own desks too. Both of our beds are against one wall and two of the desks are in front of the window so we have a lot of floor space and we equally share the mini fridge.” She expressed that living in a triple is fun because the roommates are not always in the room at the same time, so they are able to have adequate alone time, but when they are all together, it is a blast.
Hannah Qiu, a freshman business major who lives in a classroom in Upton-Hastings with four other roommates states, “we have a lot of room in the classroom and we are all relatively respectful of each other’s space and needs.”
Lowrey stated that USM is exploring providing additional housing options, particularly on the Portland campus.
“Living on campus is the biggest impact on how a student will succeed in college, so we want to continue to provide a service that gives students an academically minded residential community in which to live.” She stated that USM is currently addressing options for future years that would meet the growing demand for housing as USM itself continues to grow.