Students sit in the West Quad courtyard.
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Despite decreasing rates of college enrollment in the state, enrollment at the University of Michigan and the demand for on-campus housing continues to grow. The number of prospective first-year and transfer students enrolled for the 2023-2024 school year increased by 4% and 8%, respectively, from last year. This year, the University did not have enough existing dorm space for incoming freshman and transfer students, who are typically guaranteed on-campus housing, according to an email from Kambiz Khalili, associate vice president for Student Life. In response to the shortage, the University converted study lounges into student housing to accommodate 40 students this year.

Khalili told The Michigan Daily the University classifies some spaces, such as lounges, as temporary housing space if the need arises.

“A small number of Michigan Housing spaces are designated for flexible use,” Khalili said. “By default, these spaces are floor lounges. When we have high demand for space within our residential halls, we have the option to convert these lounges, with appropriate furniture and secure locks, into student rooms. These spaces offer the same amenities as our standard rooms.” 

Universities across the country are also experiencing a pattern of overenrollment. Though fewer Americans have opted to attend four-year colleges or universities in recent years, more and more institutions are struggling to provide housing to meet record-level class sizes. Virginia Commonwealth University, which enrolls 28,000 students, informed students that 80 of the more than 4,500 incoming freshmen would need to live in a local hotel for the 2023-2024 academic year. Last year, the University of Tennessee leased a Holiday Inn Express & Suites to account for a shortage of on-campus housing for returning students. 

Business junior Marcke De Vera, an exchange student from Australia, said his room has been converted from a hall lounge in East Quad Residence Hall. In an interview with The Daily, De Vera said his room had some minor differences from a standard single room.

“It’s a bit different, because obviously the main thing you would notice (is) … the size, so it’s a bit smaller since it was kind of pushed into the corridor a bit more,” De Vera said. “The other main thing is that it’s carpet, which I’m personally not a fan of, but maybe other people would be a fan of (that).”

In an email sent out to students who were offered supplemental housing, the University wrote that though students would reside in a nontraditional dorm, it would be equipped with all the amenities of a standard room.

“To meet demand, we have converted some hall lounges into student rooms, called student housing,” the email read. “These are adjacent to other student rooms and outfitted with all the amenities of a standard residence hall room. As these are typically larger than standard rooms, they may house more than two people.”

In an interview with The Daily, Abigail Atwood, a resident adviser at Stockwell Residence Hall, said the RAs were told MHousing took various measures to accommodate more students this year. Stockwell, which is historically an upperclassmen residence hall, typically houses the Transfer Year Experience community designed to support transfer students. This year, Stockwell was converted to a freshman residence hall in order to accommodate the increased number of first-year students.

After her two years as an RA, Atwood said she believes the decrease in available lounge spaces has shifted the dynamic between Stockwell residents.

“Mostly, it just reduced our lounges overall and also our study rooms,” Atwood said. “A lot more residents are congregating in sort of the bigger lounges and they become more social spaces as opposed to study spaces. I think I’ve had a couple residents complain about not having the quiet study spaces.”

LSA sophomore Ayline Betancourt lives in one of the reconfigured residential spaces in South Quad Residence Hall, where she lives with three other roommates. Betancourt told The Daily that, aside from carpeted floors, the space felt like a typical dorm room.

“(When I first arrived,) it was just the three empty beds and then (my roommate’s) space,” Betancourt said. “It was already (equipped) with the dressers and the desks and the closets.”

Despite living in a lounge and a room smaller than a typical University single dorm room, De Vera said he wasn’t disappointed with his housing situation.

“I’m paying the cheaper rate, so I guess it cancels out that I have a smaller room,” De Vera said. “I think it’s because of the lounge, they gave me the lowest single economy rate.”

The University is currently constructing a Central Campus residence hall on Elbel Field to address the increasing demand for on-campus housing. The hall, which has an expected capacity of 2,300 students, is expected to have half the new dormatory’s beds open by fall 2025 and the other half by fall 2026. 

Khalili said many students in temporary accommodations will be moved to standard rooms as space becomes available.

“Many students in these flexible space rooms move into a standard room later in the term, as vacancies often appear in the first few weeks,” Khalili said. “At the end of the academic year, all flexible spaces will revert back to lounges.”

Daily Staff Reporters Sneha Dhandapani and Joshua Nicholson can be reached at and