Move-in week consists of hundreds of excited freshmen, dozens of minivans and U-Hauls and absolute pandemonium. The process of selecting housing can appear fairly straightforward, but with housing only guaranteed for freshmen and sophomores, trying to find housing as an upperclassman can be difficult.
This academic year, campus housing reached maximum capacity in all dormitories, according to Senior Director of Housing Operations Elaine Turner.
“It limits the amount of spaces we have available for room changes,” Turner said. “However, we can do room swaps.”
This year, the freshmen dorms did not have enough space to accommodate all the incoming students, so Housing Operations optimized existing space, making this the first year that freshmen live in triples in the larger rooms of some freshman halls. Turner said there are three triples in Alabama Hall, one in Raoul Hall and one in Longstreet-Means Hall.
“We only tripled in spaces where we could accommodate that base on the square footage of the room, so they were large doubles to begin with,” Turner said.
Turner said every student in a triple room had been supplied with the exact same furniture as those in doubles. She added she heard mostly positive feedback from the roommates living in triples.
“In some of these triple spaces … people are just excited and ecstatic because they have gained two friends, as opposed to somebody who is in a double who had one [roommate],” Turner said.
Shawnee Boyd (22C), a current freshman living in a triple in Alabama Hall, has had a positive experience so far.
“Honestly, it’s great,” Boyd said. “We get our own bathroom and my roommates are really respectful and we are really considerate of each other. I haven’t experienced any negatives so far. The room’s bigger and we have a bathroom, and that’s really nice.”
Another freshman, Shreya Tibrewala (22C), said she did not have as favorable an experience as Boyd. Tibrewala began the year in a triple and requested to move to a double.
“I feel like I have much more personal space in this double than in that triple, because in general just sharing with another person … even if it might be a smaller place physically, but mentally and emotionally, it’s a much bigger space for me,” Tibrewala said.
The large incoming class size did not just force the Housing Office to improvise triples, but also necessitated the repurposing of several sophomore hall rooms for freshmen. Some of the current freshmen class overflowed into sophomore dorm Harris Hall. This overflow into Harris was also necessary during the last academic year, when the Office of Housing Operations transformed the bottom floors of Harris into a freshmen hall, according to Turner. The combination of freshmen and sophomores in one hall has created an avenue for sophomore leadership opportunities.
Aaron Jordan (20C), Residence Hall Association president, said these new roles allow freshmen to gain valuable mentorship from older classmates who also live in Harris. In Harris, these sophomore mentors are called Flourish Advisors.
“Even though … [the freshmen living in sophomore halls] may feel that they are in a mixed … residence hall, there are also positives to that in terms of creating mentorship relationships, so it’s us just trying to tap into the strengths of wherever we find the population at or whatever experiences we can provide for them,” Turner said.
This year, about 60 sophomores were also placed onto Clairmont campus, which has traditionally been for upperclassmen housing. Turner went on to stress that Housing Operations and RHA work to smooth the transition for sophomores located on the upperclassmen campus, who live far from their peers.
Referencing past feedback from sophomores, Jordan said that sophomores generally feel a decreased sense of community in their residence halls compared to freshman year.
Jordan went on to say that RHA is changing up the approach to sophomore dorms this year.
“We actually are taking a different approach to sophomore year councils,” Jordan said. “Before, we’ve had kind of a hall council for every different residence hall … [but] this year … we’re making a single sophomore council, similar to how Clairmont has one hall council.”
He added that the sophomore council will host large events in each of the residence halls throughout the year, instead of each residence hall hosting their own smaller events. The sophomores who live on Clairmont Campus this year are also able to run for the Clairmont RHA council, according to Jordan. That way all students will be able to represent their current residence halls. The sophomores at Clairmont are still encouraged to attend the Sophomore Year Experience (SYE) events on main campus, but they are simultaneously eligible to vote and participate on Clairmont campus. Jordan said RHA said the organization has tried to make the best of this year’s changes in residential life.
“This is really an experimental year — we’re switching things up a little bit,” Jordan said.