Despite previous uncertainties, independent common rooms on Central Campus are safe for now.
On Dec. 6, 2013 independent students living on Central Campus were informed that their common rooms would be converted to student housing for the Spring semester. Residents received a second email Sunday, however, informing them that their common rooms would no longer be converted.
“Fortunately, after much work by our assignments team, we were able to avoid using the common rooms as housing assignments,” said Dean for Residential Life Joe Gonzalez. “No common rooms are being used to house students.”
MJ Williams, director of housing assignments and planning, explained that the difficulty in accommodating students for this semester stemmed from the fact that more students chose to live on-campus this Spring than in the past.
“We had less vacancies on campus during the Fall semester, fewer students requesting release for the Spring semester and the largest cohort of study away returning from abroad,” Williams said.
Housing, Dining, Residence Life had to make several adjustments to accommodate the large number of students requesting on-campus housing, but was ultimately able to do so without converting Central Campus common rooms into housing.
Although most students were able to be accommodated in traditional spaces, some were placed in rooms that were reserved as overflow or set aside as disability-friendy, Williams said.
She noted that HDRL did not receive as many requests from juniors and seniors to live off-campus as they have in the past. Some selective living groups agreed to give up empty bed spaces in their sections to help provide housing for all students, Williams noted.
“The housing assignments staff chased down every possibility and spent many hours working with students to identify space for our returning students,” Williams said. “It is through their efforts that we managed this challenge.”
The biggest challenge that HDRL faced was completing assignments in a timely manner, Williams said. In past years, students could expect to have their assignments by Thanksgiving. This year, the last assignment was made on Dec.18.
“Yes, it is stressful for my staff and the students seeking housing, but everyone was assigned prior to the start of the Spring semester,” Williams said. “Going forward, students can expect to have housing assignments completed prior to the start of the Spring semester. This means the assignments may be made in late December or even the first part of January.”
Eleanor Mehlenbacher, an unaffiliated sophomore living on Central, was not worried about losing her common room space.
“It’s great that HDRL provides common rooms on Central for every building, but it’s not something that I think is particularly necessary for independents,” Mehlenbacher said. “I’ve never used the common room in my building because there are plenty of other shared spaces on campus like the Bryan Center and Perkins where I can meet people and hang out with friends.”
She did, however, express concern with the idea that independent students would have their spaces taken away while SLGs and greek organizations could keep theirs. She said unaffiliated students could be at a disadvantage for housing because greek students and SLGs have the nicest locations on campus, which are not available to independent students.