By Lindsay Haislip
Many students have noticed that things may be a little tighter in residence halls this year, and according to Director of Residential Life, Carl Crowe, that issue is here to stay. While it is an institutional issue, according to Crowe, it has had much more of an impact on incoming men than women.
“We do have some women in Kent who are in overflow housing,” said Crowe. “All the little study lounges at the end of the halls are now housing women, but the vast majority of people in overflow housing are all men.”
The college has taken measures to generate more housing for men, such as opening Gibson 100.
“We currently have 21 men out there,” said Crowe. Lounges have had to be reclaimed for male housing purposes in all dorms.
“As a matter of fact,” Crowe said, “Somerset right now is the only building that has one open lounge left.” Needless to say, it is very tight this year.
There are a number of factors which have contributed to this shortage, and the college is currently working on ways to compensate for these changes. Crowe said that “in the past couple of years, we have graduated out fairly small classes, while at the same time welcoming in very large classes.”
Last year, not even 300 graduated out, however this year’s junior class is the largest entering class in the history of Washington College, according to Crowe.
This factor explains the reason for the shortage in the highly coveted Zone 3 housing last year.
“We had a lot of people that wanted Zone 3 housing who thought they were actually going to get it,” said Crowe, “but when you have less people going out and more people going in, there was much more of a clamor for it.”
“It is my understanding, that the college is going to target incoming classes from here on out of at least 450 students, so I think this is going to be an ongoing issue”, said Crowe.
Also, there are fewer students who are coming to WC. “This year’s class was a big picture of that, said Crowe; most diverse, most academically prepared that we’ve seen in a while,” he said. The trend is also leaning towards better retention in the residence halls, according to Crowe. More students are electing to stay on campus rather than go off.
“As a matter of fact, this year alone, I had seven students who went off campus, who then changed their mind and wanted to come back on,” said Crowe. “All of these things coming together have really given us a problem of prosperity, and I think the institution is going to have to figure out the best way to address that,” Crowe said.
So, you may wonder what WC is planning to do as a result of this housing shortage, especially considering the fact that it is sure to be an ongoing issue. “The Board of Visitors and Governors is going to have to contend to this when we’re going to build the new residence hall,” said Crowe. “There is a geothermal field already down for a new residence hall adjacent to Chester and Sassafras.” According to Crowe, it is not a question of if, it is a question of when this new dorm will be built. The institution is also looking at other options for housing students in the meantime, such as the possibility of renting apartments from places like Kent Crossing. “A couple years ago, the college had rented apartments from them, and then placed students in those apartments, so we may need to look at doing that again”, said Crowe.
According to Crowe, 2008 was the worst year that the college had ever seen as far as being short of housing for students. This year may be a little better, in that not every lounge is being used. However, because of the expanding student body, campus-housing facilities will need to expand with it.