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Last year's adjustments create roomy campus for freshmen

With the extra-large class of 2002 gone from East Campus, this year's freshman class is left to deal with the renovations imposed on East by last year's overcrowding.

The class of 2003 is residing on a campus designed for about 100 more students than currently live there. However, because most freshmen are unaware of the kitchens and commons rooms that formerly existed in their dormitories, they seem content with their current living conditions.

Pat Lloyd, manager of residence hall operations, said 28 permanent bed spaces were added to East to accommodate last year's freshman class of about 1,720, with changes occurring mostly in Bassett, Brown, Giles, Pegram and Alspaugh dormitories. At a cost of $450,000, the University converted kitchens, commons rooms and study areas into living quarters.

The changes were designed to permanently accommodate a higher occupancy on East Campus, said Bill Burig, assistant dean of student development. But the Class of 2003 is considerably smaller, containing only about 1,600 students.

"Clearly we have a number of rooms on the first-year campus where room space fluctuates," Burig said. Last year, there were 80 triple rooms on East Campus: 20 "designed" triples and 60 "small" triples. In sharp contrast, only 24 triples are currently in use on East, with 20 being "designed" triples and only four "small" triples.

As a result, many freshmen are experiencing the comfort of a "small" triple with only one roommate. Burig explained that due to the adjustability of living quarters, overcrowding should never be a large problem, but even with a small class, valuable space is not wasted. Students live comfortably, but not lavishly.

"Living in a [designed] triple has not been any problem for my roommates and me because we have ample space for both storing personal items and studying," said engineering freshman Erin Becherer. "The only thing we are forced to share are the two closets that we have for three people, but because they are relatively spacious, it has not created tensions between us."

Trinity freshman Gilbert Barrera lives in a double that was used as a triple last year. "At times I almost feel guilty for living in such a large room," he said. "My double could adequately house three people. Apparently it's not needed for that, and I don't mind."

Just as freshmen are mostly unaffected by the extra space, Burig said the larger sophomore class has not had much of an impact on upperclass housing. He added that the University has experience oversized classes before.

The graduation of the slightly larger class of 1999 has helped alleviate overcrowding on West Campus, Burig said. During the 1998-99 school year, 20 "designed" triples were in use, along with 100 "small" triples. This year the numbers are down slightly, as only 117 triples house students- 20 "designed" and 97 "small."

Burig added that problems might occur upon the return of a large number of students currently studying abroad. However, he said he does not anticipate overcrowding to be a major dilemma during the spring semester.

Although the class of 2003 is relatively small, housing officials expect to be prepared for large classes in the future. Renovations to East that could not be completed in the summer of 1998 were carried out this past summer. For example, Lloyd said, the second floor commons rooms in Wilson Dormitory were converted into two doubles and one single.

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