Residence halls are operating at a 50% capacity this semester after many students canceled their housing contracts in the fall.
University Housing and Dining was able to offer spring housing to students who wished to live on campus without requiring roommates, said Justin Jaskowiak, UHD director for apartments, occupancy and conferences.
Students who signed a housing contract in the fall could be let out of the contract penalty free if their course schedule was fully remote, Jaskowiak said.
“In a normal year, we typically only have maybe 100, 150 spaces available for students to move into (during the spring semester), because the halls are typically full,” Jaskowiak said. “Due to us having space, including full empty rooms, we could offer more contracts to students needing housing.”
Unlike previous semesters, UHD made no roommate assignments for the spring, Jaskowiak said. If a student did not put down a preferred roommate in their housing portal, they were assigned to a room alone.
“Students who are coming for the spring, if they have a preferred roommate, can match with that roommate,” Jaskowiak said. “We just need to hear that both people have chosen to … live together. For all other students, due to the space that is available, we didn’t assign any students to a roommate unless it was a preferred roommate.”
Jaskowiak said UHD was at 100% residence hall occupancy in the fall when it was announced that classes would be remote. The now 50% occupancy reflects the students who have chosen to forgo their housing contract for the spring.
“It’s not coincidental that (the occupancy is) about 50%, but it has also matched what our students are looking for,” Jaskowiak said. “We haven’t turned folks away, we haven’t told students no, because we have the space to accommodate the number of students that are looking for housing.”
Biochemistry freshman Megan Frank moved on campus this semester to attend an in-person lab for a freshman research initiative program. Frank will be living without a roommate.
“Having a roommate and learning how to compromise and communicate is a key feature of the typical college dorm experience,” Frank said. “Whether you're best friends or not, having a roommate forces you to interact with another person on a daily basis, so I think living in a single-occupancy room might leave me feeling a bit secluded.”
Biochemistry freshman Lauryn Brown lived at home for the fall semester, but moved on campus and found a roommate for the spring. Brown and her roommate met on Instagram and decided to live together for the spring semester.
“Being alone, I can’t do that. I came from a large family so I didn’t want to be silent in my room,” Brown said. “I feel like I will have a (different freshman experience), but it won’t be as bad as staying home. At least I’m seeing people, I’m on campus.”