EDITORIAL: Students deserve a permanent housing solution

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For most incoming college freshmen, August means saying goodbye to home and embarking on a four-year journey of new opportunities, friends and experiences. Marquette is no exception. However, for some of those new students, their “home” upon arriving to campus is only temporary.

This year’s incoming class was record-setting, comprised of 2,085 freshmen and 176 transfer students. According to Dr. James McMahon, assistant vice president and dean of residence life, only 92 percent of those freshman and 56 percent of those transfers were assigned to permanent residence hall space.

What was the university’s solution to this problem?

To address the less-than-expected number of acceptance cancellations and higher number of transfer students, a plan was set in place to renovate lounges in three of campus’ nine residence halls.

In McCormick Hall, 23 students — eight freshmen and 15 transfers — are temporarily housed in floor lounges that were converted into quad rooms. Both Abbottsford and O’Donnell Halls had similar renovations, but rather than being used as temporary space, 34 students permanently live there.

Additionally, 12 students were assigned to university-owned apartments, with the option to stay and sign a lease rather than wait for space in the residence halls to open up.

According to McMahon, the Office of Residence Life hopes that all students temporarily housed in McCormick will be moved into permanent housing within the next month. He said they are now identifying available space that opened after new students did not arrive on move-in day.

Although the university is trying its best to fix the problem, there are some questions that arise regarding the solutions, and why the problem even occurred in the first place.

Every university is responsible for “guesstimating” how many students will choose to enroll upon acceptance. In most cases, although it is disappointing to see a student decline admission, it also serves as a sigh of relief for the housing process.

Fewer incoming students means fewer housing problems. More incoming students, as we’ve seen, means some individuals receive letters in July saying they have a place to live … but not really.

Not only would receiving such a letter crush an incoming freshman excited about heading off to college, but it also means their college experience — a transition that is hard enough already — is getting off to a particularly difficult start.

On over the summer, some of those students discovered they would be rooming with sophomores, and a select few were even placed in apartments, surrounded by upperclassmen, with far less chance to make initial friendships with others on their floor.

This issue does not only affect the incoming students, though.

What about the sophomores who were placed with freshmen in residence halls such as Mashuda Hall and Carpenter Tower? What about the transfer upperclassmen who were put in the same situation?

Transfer students will have fewer opportunities to meet others their own age. Sophomores housed with freshmen could experience conflicts due to a “second-year, been-there-done-that” mentality versus a new college lifestyle.

On another note, placing underclassmen in university-owned apartments only makes the already stressful housing process in October for juniors and seniors more difficult. Last year, university apartments unexpectedly ran out of space, and those with later selection time slots were forced to seek residence elsewhere for the upcoming school year.

If those spaces were completely filled last year, why are there apartment units open now? It raises the question as to whether or not the buildings were truly full, or if it was another one of the university’s “guesstimation” techniques to prevent future problems, like the one that is occurring now.

Separate from the effects temporary housing has on the students, cost efficiency for the university is also at risk.

Once students are relocated and the temporary lounges in McCormick open up, those areas will need to be converted back to lounge space. The money that was spent to renovate them in the first place will be a waste, and even more will be spent to change them back.

A more cost-efficient solution that would not only be better for current, but also future students, is the addition of a new residence hall.

Past years have seen incredible new buildings such as Eckstein Hall and the Discovery Learning Complex. These are great achievements for the Marquette community, but they will also attract more students to the university — students who need space to live.

With application and acceptance rates steadily rising, it is expected that next year will be no different — again with too many students, and again, with not enough dorm space.

Whether it is a new residence hall built in the vacant lot on Wells Street across from the Al McGuire Center, or simply the university improving their skills in guesstimation, a permanent solution needs to be found.

After all, Marquette students who pay over $40,000 a year deserve better than to be temporarily housed.

 

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