The University has recently revealed an
innovative housing plan for certain incoming freshman and North
Campus residents. Faced with an “overbooking” —
450 freshman with housing contracts but no rooms to accommodate
them — the University has decided to move undergraduate
students into the family housing units of Northwood I, II and III.
This move is a functional compromise that makes the best of the
immediate situation, but it reveals a much more fundamental problem
at the University: inadequate residence hall facilities.

Hana Bae

The makeshift solution employed by the University will be costly
and merely enough to get through this coming academic year. Last
year, faced with a large incoming class and a significant number of
students who elected to return to the residence hall system, the
University converted lounge facilities in many dorms to quads
— rooms for four. For the coming year, the University’s
plan is much more extravagant and expensive. Upperclassmen living
in the Baits complex on North Campus will be moved into the family
housing units of Northwood I, II and III. Some current residents of
Northwood I, II and III will be moved to Northwood IV and V. The
University will cover the moving costs, and both the relocated
upperclassmen and former residents of Northwood I, II and III will
continue to pay their original housing fees. Incoming freshmen,
then, will be able to occupy the vacated sections of the Baits
complex.

While this scenario is not perfect, it is the best working
option, and the University has been unusually considerate in its
planning. Residents of any Northwood complex will not be relocated
without permission, and while certain upperclassmen in Baits
housing will not be given the option to return to Baits, they will
be allowed to withdraw from their housing contract if they choose
not to move into Northwood. Of course, questions and concerns
linger, and many Northwood residents remain wary of having rowdy
undergraduates living next to their children.

In addition to the measures implemented to benefit relocated
students, the University should be encouraged to expand services to
accommodate the greater number of incoming students who will live
on North Campus. Historically isolated, freshman on North Campus
often miss the rich experiences available to those on the Hill or
luxurious South and West Quads. With almost 30 percent of incoming
students located somewhere on North Campus, the University should
expand extracurricular facilities as well as transport services in
the area. Just because students are placed in a North Campus dorm,
they should not forego the freshman year experience.

However, whatever the University does to fix its immediate
housing problem, it will fail to address the core issue: inadequate
housing. Bursley, the most “modern” residence hall, was
nonetheless built about 40 years ago. Since then, no major
residence facility has been constructed, while enrollment has
steadily crept upwards. This disparate growth has created a
problem, which is now an imminent crisis. Fundamentally, the
University must seriously explore the idea of constructing a new
residence facility. Only through the construction of new buildings
can the University actually create more rooms, which are
realistically what is needed. While this may be expensive, it
promises a permanent solution, not a temporary fix, to a chronic
growing problem.

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