Friday August 25, 2006
Technique - The South's Liveliest College NewspaperNews

Housing moves 150 dorm rooms to triples

Courtesy of Housing

The rooms with three freshmen had to have a workspace below a lofted bed, which replaced two of the desks in the room. The setup was created to maximize the usuable space in the dorm rooms.

By James Stephenson News Editor

[Editor's Note: This article is reprinted, with modifications and updates, from the June 14 issue of the Technique.]

With more students entering Tech than expected, many aspects of campus have been affected by overcrowding issues. The first noticeable aspect of campus affected was housing, which did not have enough rooms to accommodate all the new freshmen in the normal way.

"On July 18, the freshmen were able to see their roommates. We wanted to keep that deadline. On that day, there were 170 students without an assignment. At that point, we went into triple mode," said Dan Morrison, assistant director of housing.

Housing sent out an email in July offering students who wished to cancel their contracts the opportunity to do so free of penalty. The move was made to create more space in on-campus housing.

"We thought 100 students were going to take use up on the offer to cancel their housing assignments without penalty. Only 55 students actually did, and the other cancellations we were expecting did not occur," Morrison said.

Other options were looked into before decided to move freshmen into triples.

"We looked at all the different options including off-campus housing. There are not many options available off campus in July. We have room for about fifty students in flex spaces and we used them all," Morrison said.

Freshmen are not the only group of students experiencing a housing shortage.

"At the time of the decision, there were 113 sophomores without a room, as well. We are continuing to get cancellations, and sophomores will get those rooms. We could handle one issue or the other, but not both," Morrison said.

Currently, there are 156 rooms with triples.

"We looked to do triples on East campus first. The rooms are smaller, though, so we shifted our focus to West campus, especially Folk and Caldwell. They have the best electric and HVAC systems and are 100 percent wireless. They are the best buildings to triple," Morrison said.

"We had three per room in Towers and were looking at putting a fifth person in the quads. There was no room for a fridge or a TV. Initially, we tried to keep all three desks in the rooms, but the students would not be able to get in and out of the desks," said Tim Gallagher, president of RHA.

A new solution was created to allow all three students in a triple to have space to work.

"Two beds are bunked and we added a third bed at high loft. Under the lofted bed is a desk with two work spaces. We had to get creative with the desks because it is so tight a fit," Morrison said.

"We tried a bunch of different set ups to maximize floor space. Once the students are in, they can move it around how ever they wish," Gallagher said.

Space was not the only issue housing faced in creating places for the incoming freshmen.

"Furniture is the big issue. Because of the renovations, we are a good purchaser of furniture. The manufacturer was able to get all of the furniture except for 50 wardrobes. We bought temporary particle board wardrobes to last until the remainder of the wardrobes arrive," Morrison said.

Students living in triples received a discount for their inconvenience.

"We returned $400 to the students in triples. It cost $350,000 for furniture as well as for the extra consumption of utilities. We are definitely not making money on this, but we are trying not to lose money either," Morrison said.

Students were initially upset over having to live in a triple, sparking such things as a Facebook group protesting the move. Students were told on July 24, a week after they received their initial room assignments, that they were in a triple.

"Most of the people in Folk and Caldwell applied early, so it seems that we are penalizing students who did everything right during the registration process. However, we were looking at the buildings and the space within the building, not the students who were already in those buildings when we made this decision. We crossed each bridge as we got to it," Morrison said.

Housing has a system for untripling the rooms.

"We are untripling according to the application date of the original two applicants. The earliest will be untripled first. The third person knows that he is the one who will physically have to move when the tripling ends."

While the system is in place, students should not expect to be removed from a triple this semester.

"Our goal is to get everyone out by January, but we are not promising. The reality of the situation is that the students will probably be in this situation until December at the earliest," Morrison said.

Everything that housing did was within its right according to the housing contract that students signed upon coming to Tech.

"We didn't have any idea that we would have to do it, but we reserve the right to do what we have to do to house all the students. The fire marshal and the health and safety inspectors approved the rooms. If you come in with a bad attitude, you'll have a bad experience. Some schools always have triples. They designate triples in rooms that are larger than usual," Morrison said.

Student opinion has shifted now that students have seen the rooms for themselves and have met their new roommates.

"It seems that students aren't too unhappy about it," Gallagher said.

"It is better than I expected," said Serg Klimov, a first year biomedical engineering major.

"I like it because we rearranged our room and it looks nice." said Megan Cole, a first year biomedical engineering major.

"At first I thought I was going to have a heart attack, but once I saw the room and met my roommates I decided that it would be ok," said Amie Hobbs, a first-year biomedical engineering major.