Campus housing shortage balances itself out, for now
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 00:01
Miami University’s housing shortage has begun to balance itself out after disciplinary action last semester relocated 43 fraternity members to on-campus living and made the situation critical.
While overcrowding in residence halls may be solved for this semester, current on-campus construction projects will not yield an increase in student beds on campus.
According to Brian Woodruff, director of Housing Options, Meals and Events (HOME), he has yet to calculate the Miami residence halls’ exact capacity, but he believes it to be much closer to 100 percent than the 103 percent Miami was at in October.
“From my quick estimation, and looking at what right now I think to be true, we’re looking like we’re right around 7,140 or so [students] with us on campus,” Woodruff said. “That’s right about at our capacity, so we’re looking really good on that.”
Woodruff credited time, and various uncontrollable factors for solving the housing crisis.
“We always have fewer people on campus in spring than we do in fall,” Woodruff said. “A lot of people study abroad, they might transfer out—different reasons.”
According to him, all of the 14 fraternity members that remained in temporary housing in October have been assigned permanent rooms, though a few spring semester transfer students took their place.
One of those transfer students, junior Ross Paisley, was happy to say he received an email on Wednesday, Jan. 16 assigning him a permanent living arrangement.
“I ended up in temporary housing because I registered far later than I should have,” Paisley said. “So, I get thrown into temporary housing, but it really wasn’t all too bad because there only ended up being three people in my room.”
According to Paisley, Miami’s typical temporary living spaces hold 14 people in a single, ‘barracks-style’ room comprised of seven semi-private ‘pods’ with two people in each. Paisley said he got lucky.
“It was just me and a couple other guys and we got along well, but I can imagine though, say if it was a month scenario and we were at full capacity,” Paisley said. “If fourteen people were living in there—everybody has music, alarms, computers—it would get aggravating.”
To avoid forcing others into Miami’s temporary housing in the future, Woodruff said certain preventative measures are taken.
“We’re taking lots of historical information, what we’ve learned this year and the years prior, really to be as prepared as possible for next year to prevent the overcrowding situation,” Woodruff said. “The way we do that is that we limit the number of juniors and seniors who we allow to choose rooms [on campus].”
According to Woodruff, Miami is currently in the process of establishing several new residence halls as part of a preconceived construction plan.
Though the number of residence halls will increase, renovations on older buildings will increase the room size and decrease the number of rooms, keeping capacity approximately the same even after all construction is complete
“We have flexibility built into the program, so it could change along the way, but at this point we are planning ultimately to maintain the same capacity that we have today,” Woodruff said.
Matt Frericks, Director of Auxiliary Construction and Services, said though it will not increase Miami’s capacity, construction will better students’ lifestyles. According to him, the plan involves improving and diversifying student living conditions by increasing room sizes and offering innovative housing arrangements.
“Back in the 2006 time frame, a lot of focus groups were done with students at the time, a lot of input from university departments,” Frericks said. “Based on all those things at that time, that plan was developed.”
One might question why Miami would refrain from increasing the number of rooms after the recent housing crisis. According to Woodruff, an under-populated university can be as problematic as an overpopulated one, causing its own set of issues for the student body.
“It’s important for a university to have their buildings filled,” Woodruff said. “For us here at Miami, every bit of income that we receive from students for room and board goes right back into the program for the renovations and improvements.”
According to Woodruff, there are negative results of both scenarios in this balancing act, but because being slightly overcapacity is usually overcome within the first weeks of a semester, whereas the other extreme would have more lasting effects, the former is preferred.
“It’s a situation that does help the university, and we know that it’s inconvenient, so we do everything we can to make those students [in temporary housing] comfortable, to assist them,” Woodruff said.
Though overcrowding in the fall was more than slight, with the unforeseeable influx of fraternity members, Woodruff is pleased to say that Miami and its students seem to be out of the woods.
“We’re very proud and very happy,” Woodruff said. “We’ve been able to get through that first part there and hopefully provide a situation for students where they’re comfortable, and at home, and enjoy where they’re at.”