Squeezed for Space

BY BRANDAN BLOM // NOV. 16, 2012 //

Curry’s Milton campus is pretty big; 135 acres to be exact. But that doesn’t mean space is unlimited.

Entering this academic year, the college didn’t have enough dorms rooms to meet the unexpected demand. As a result, 33 lounges across four different residence halls were converted into makeshift dorm rooms to accommodate undergraduates who wanted to live on campus. There are approximately 1,380 students who live on campus, according to the college.

Curry didn’t anticipate such a high number of campus housing requests for the 2012-2013 school year. // COURTESY PHOTO //

The reason for the shortage was that more returning students sought campus housing than in previous years, said Erik Muurisepp, director of Residence Life & Housing. In addition, the college converted the Cottage residence hall—which featured 10 beds—into faculty office space this summer.

As a stopgap solution, Curry turned common-usage spaces in 886, NCRH, White House and Milton Hall into private dorm rooms. Each room could house two or three students. The common rooms were already walled off and included doors, so the college mostly just had to purchase metal wardrobes for students’ clothes. The final cost, according to Muurisepp, was “maybe a few thousand dollars.”

The lounges in White House and the first floor of NCRH have already been converted back into common rooms, as traditional dorm rooms have opened up due to students no longer attending Curry or students deciding to move off campus. However, Muurisepp said some of the common rooms would remain temporary housing through the spring semester.

The students who were placed in the common rooms were late in submitting their housing deposits; the deadline was July 15. Muurisepp said he thinks the college can prevent overcrowding in the future by accepting only the first 850 housing deposits from returning students. After that, students would have to wait for space to open up.

Although some students have openly complained about losing common-room space, those living in the rooms are relatively happy. The converted common rooms are spacious and the ones in 886 come equipped with a sink, microwave and a stovetop. David Haddad, an English major living in one of these rooms, said he would rather be living in a conventional dorm room—preferably on the south side of campus—but said “the [common] room is a nice set up in the meantime.”

Haddad added that he is not upset with the college because the situation was his own doing. “I signed up late, so I’m kind of to blame,” said Haddad. “But if I’m still here next semester, I’ll be a little pissed.”

Stanley Sainterlien, a sophomore management major who was moved out of one of the common rooms and is now living in a double in 886, said he would have preferred to stay in the lounge because of all the space he had. “It turned out to be nice!” said Sainterlien.

Given the strains on the college to provide housing to all students who want it, and the age and conditions of some existing dorms, Muurisepp said Curry would likely have to build a new residence hall in the near future if enrollment was to expand. “I’ve heard rumors of a new building, but it is not something that has been openly talked about,” he said.

While there are no plans for new housing construction in the next year, Muurisepp added that the college would be better prepared to meet students’ residential needs moving forward.

“I think we will be able to plan better,” he said. “We will be more open and honest with the students in the future.”

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