North Texas Daily

Large freshman class leaves university housing at over capacity

Large freshman class leaves university housing at over capacity

Large freshman class leaves university housing at over capacity
September 15
08:00 2022

University housing is above 100 percent occupancy as the freshman class turned out to be larger than expected, said Housing Director James Fairchild.

When preparing for the start of the next academic year, Fairchild said predictions for the size of the incoming class are made with a buffer to allow leeway. However, this year’s class surpassed the cushioned number.

“The increase in the size of the freshman class has created a situation where we’ve had to be creative and step a little bit outside of the box to find solutions,” Fairchild said.

With no extra rooms on hand, about 110 freshmen have been put into temporary living situations. These situations include rooming with student housing employees — resident and facility assistants — and about 20 students staying in hotels. 

“A lot of RAs/FAs have rooms that can house multiple people and [housing put] in freshmen for a temporary amount of time,” an anonymous FA said. “But because the housing is such an issue this year, they’re going to have roommates probably permanently throughout the semester.”

RAs and FAs who currently have roommates are being compensated with $400 the FA said.

“[The money] is given to whatever RA or FA has the roommate because, in our contract, it says we have a single occupant, like, solo room,” the FA said.

 Fairchild said there is no contractual obligation for housing to provide the student employees with single occupancy rooms and did not state whether compensations were being given.

The university’s housing website states RAs are provided private rooms “as available.” And the anonymous FA said RAs and FAs are offered the same benefits but just have different job descriptions.

“Our goal is to be able to provide our student staff their own space, but that’s a goal that has to be adjusted or modified [as] demand for [freshmen] to be on campus […] takes a precedent,” Fairchild said. 

Santa Fe Square has been transformed from a double occupancy building to a triple occupancy one. Each room’s size allowed for a third set of furniture and has its own private bathroom. The modified rooms are similar to other triple occupancy rooms on campus, Fairchild said.

“I would say for the foreseeable future, Santa Fe will stay tripled and be a freshman residence hall,” Fairchild said. “We’re probably not [going to] have an opportunity to […] transition it back into double occupancy anytime soon.”

Freshmen are also being housed in residence halls that previously housed only upperclassmen and Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science students.

Data science freshman Andrew Truong currently lives in Legends Hall, an upperclassman residence hall with single occupancy rooms, with an upperclassman as his suitemate.

“When I found out I was having a private occupancy room, I was really happy honestly,” Truong said. “I really enjoy my private space and having a room to myself. […] I think it’s great to have a suitemate [who is] an upperclassman. I have a resource to consult whenever I have questions.”

While Truong enjoys living in Legends, he said that freshmen being placed in upperclassmen dorms can have consequences.

“Since freshman dorming is required, it’s not really fair for the upperclassmen and whatever situation they have,” Truong said. “Upperclassmen that are being relocated or being kicked out of dorming — it’s really not fair.”

Biology sophomore Diana Gutierrez is one of the 800 upperclassmen who were denied on-campus housing this year.

“I know [the university] has freshmen coming in, but they also should cater to the upperclassmen […] they already have if they want to keep people interested in the university,” Gutierrez said.

As the freshman class grows each year, in addition to the university policy requiring incoming students to live on campus, more upperclassmen will be denied housing and expected to live off campus.

“How we would plan for [the growing number of freshmen] is fewer spaces being available to upperclassmen,” Fairchild said. “If we require freshmen to occupy beds [on campus] because of our policy, and [the number of freshmen] continues to climb, then it’s just taking up a larger percentage of the overall beds that are available, which leaves upperclassmen on the smaller end of that spectrum.”

Fairchild said that there are currently no plans for new residence halls to be built, and even if there were, it would not be a quick solution to this problem.

“More beds, more residence halls on campus with new construction is the other possibility that takes time and planning and commitment of financial resources to get to that point,” he said. “It takes a couple of years to pull that off.”

Featured Image: The Santa Fe Square residence hall sits on campus on Aug. 2, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

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Kelly Tran

Kelly Tran

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