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Without Bexleys, College to Confront Limited Housing

By Rebecca Dann and Erin Mershon

Next year, the College will have fewer extra beds available than it has had in years. Once all enrolled students claim beds, Housing and Residential Life predicts the College will have fewer than 20 remaining beds, or less than 1 percent, open.

“We want to maintain between 1 and 4 percent of bed spaces open at any particular time in case there is an emergency, to accommodate roommate issues or for medical needs,” said Alicia Dugas, assistant dean of students for Housing and Residential Life. Such a practice also allows flexibility when rooms need routine or emergency maintenance repairs.

The decrease in bed space is largely a result of the demolition of the Bexley Apartments, which will make way for more North Campus Apartments in the future. Eventually, NCAs will provide the College needed extra bed space, but since the College does not expect to complete their construction until the fall of 2013, the extra space will not all be available this fall.

The first phase of NCA construction, which will officially be complete in June, will add 92 beds in the fall. The second phase of construction, which cannot begin until the Bexley Apartments are torn down, will add an additional 124 beds.

“There will be a total of 216 bed spaces, with a net total of about 150 bed spaces with the Bexleys being torn down,” Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said.

Having fewer beds available will have an impact on the Housing Lottery in April, according to Dugas. “I do predict that there will be some students who are summer-housed,” she said in an email. “How many, I don’t know.” The number of students who are summer-housed is dependent on a number of factors beyond the control of ResLife, including the number of students going abroad, the number of students withdrawing or transferring and the number of first years admitted.

This is not the first year the College will be operating with minimal room availability.

“For the last couple of years, we have only had a small cushion, so it will be even tighter next year,” Kohlman said.

The College has been looking for new solutions to the housing problem, in addition to the construction of the North Campus Apartments and the purchase of the Morgan Apartments.

“In the last five years there have been a few semesters when we have been able to have 1 to 5 percent open,” Dugas said.

“Unfortunately the reason we have been able to have this many beds open is only because we have … [turned] lounges into triples [or turned] student carrel rooms into student bedrooms.”

With fewer than 20 beds unaccounted for next year, the ResLife staff is working to find additional space off campus for students as a solution. They have asked senior staff to allow 20 students to live offcampus next year.

“The students must maintain good GPAs [and] judicial histories and have no previous reports of damage to their rooms, so we know that they have the ability to live on their own,” Dugas said.

Dugas is also concerned with enrollment numbers.

“Because space will be so tight next year, attrition and retention rates need to be on point. Next year’s class enrollment cannot go over the number projected,” she said.

The crunch next year has the College looking forward to the completion of the North Campus Apartments.

“The goal is to add 5 percent extra bed space with the addition of the North Campus Apartments housing project,” Kohlman said.

“… Our goal is to have enough space so that we can start additional renovations in some of the older residential buildings on campus.”

Hank Toutain, dean of students, also emphasized that the benefits of the new North Campus Apartments extend beyond just building new houses. “One of our hopes is that other renovations can happen in Caples, Mather, and McBride,” he said. “The North Campus Apartments have been a long-standing goal of the Board of Trustees. … It significantly improves the quality of the houses.”

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