Bed, Wrath and Beyond

BY HALEY LORGE // MAY 7, 2014 //

After receiving their housing lottery numbers this spring, Curry College residential students scrambled to make plans for next year. However, things haven’t gone quite as planned for everybody.

Twenty current rising juniors have no place to live on campus next year because of a shortage in residential housing, even though the college is currently building a new 168-bed dormitory next to the Student Center. According to the assistant dean of students for residence life & housing, Erik Muurisepp, Curry enjoyed a record year for on-time housing deposits, with a total of 970 payments for the academic year 2014-15.

Oscarina Polonio is among the rising juniors on the “to-be-housed” list. “I was very upset that I was put on the waiting list for my junior year, knowing there was available space, but they wanted sophomores to get housing,” Polonio said.

Artist's rendering

Artist’s rendering

There has been a lot of concern about on-campus housing at Curry in recent years. The college has worked to improve its student retention rate—defined by the number of first-year students who return for a second year; the current rate is 65.6 percent—while at the same time it has increased its accepted student rate, which was 84 percent last year. According to the Admissions Department, 695 first-year students have placed their deposit to attend Curry in the fall. That’s 85 more first-year students than just two years ago.

Such growth has resulted in students living in converted common rooms in the residence halls and even in area hotel rooms rented by the school. Students who submit their housing deposits on time are guaranteed housing by the college.

The new dormitory should help ease the crunch, but the building is far from complete; construction only began in late March. College administrators have been adamant that the dorm would be finished by the start of the fall semester, but rising sophomores who recently chose rooms in the new building were required to pick an alternative space in case the building wasn’t ready. Those students had a choice between a converted common room in 886 or North Campus Residence Hall, or a hotel room at the Courtyard Marriott in Stoughton.

Muurisepp said common rooms would revert back to study areas as soon as the new building is ready.

Curry makes annual projections of which academic class will need the most housing, based on residential retention rates. Muurisepp said the demand is usually in sophomore housing. Of the students who turned in their deposits on time this year, 422 were rising sophomores. Combined, rising juniors and rising seniors accounted for 442.

Other changes to housing include:

  • North Campus Residence Hall will now only house freshmen, as opposed to a mix of freshmen and sophomores.
  • Green House and Brown House, which have traditionally housed sophomores, will now house juniors.
  • There will be 61 Resident Assistants next year, up from 55 this academic year.

How it Works

With the new building, the school will have 1,599 beds. However, not all beds are equal.

According to the Curry College website, a room is $7,580 plus a $400 refundable residence hall damage deposit. This is the standard rate for doubles in first-year dorms, North Campus Residence Hall, and the sophomore houses. However, at the bottom of the page, the college states that the room cost listed is only standard and may increase depending on room assignments.

What the website does not mention is that there is a total of seven rates for housing, which will increase to nine with the new building. The rates for rooms in 886, the Suites, South Campus Residence Hall, and the new building are higher. South Campus Residence Hall is the most expensive, followed by the Suites, and then 886. Singles are also more expensive than a double or triple in each dorm.

Muuriespp said the new building will be priced between 886 and the Suites, but the college is offering a discounted rate next year that will be the same as 886.

Housing selection at Curry is done by random lottery. Students are assigned a number and choose their residence hall in that order. But some students believe this isn’t the best process, particularly at a college with a poor retention rate.

“I don’t think it’s right that students who choose not to go to class or [not to] get involved could get better rooms than students who work hard and make deans list,” said Colleen McMahon, a freshman nursing major, who advocates for a system based on GPA.

McMahon and her current roommate, Karyn Colomey, received the lottery numbers 259 and 402, respectively. By the time they got to choose a residence hall, their only option was to split up and live in rooms with people they did not know. Both women are working with school officials to find a double room. Otherwise, they said, they might opt to live off campus next year.

Another challenge to changes on campus is alcohol. One of the appeals of junior and senior housing is living on the south side of campus, where a room may have alcohol in it if everyone there is 21. Many students turn 21 during their junior year, so they want to live on south side. Muurisepp said the college would likely re-evaluate the alcohol policies for the juniors living on central campus, defined as the residence halls surrounding the Student Center.

Ultimately, Muurisepp said, all times of change involve a certain degree of uncertainty. “My motto is, ‘Trust the process,’” Muurisepp said. “The process works, and 90 percent of the time it works itself out.”

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