August 27, 2003

Frosh Find Room Despite Squeeze

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New students at Cornell have already learned their first lesson: Don’t believe everything you hear, especially when it comes to rumors. There aren’t any students living in custodial closets or dormitory lounges, and no freshmen are living in dorms on West Campus.

About 200 more than the expected 3,050 students targeted by admissions make up this year’s freshman class. While this may not seriously affect class sizes, there has been a significant effect on the limited freshman housing accommodations.

Although three years ago a drastic lack of housing left students living in lounges, all freshmen this year will have rooms with some personal space, if less than usual.

Over the past weekend, 3,254 freshmen moved into 16 North Campus dorms. Eight of these buildings are for freshmen only; in the other eight, freshmen make up about 25 percent of the residents.

“It was an adjustment,” said David Collins ’07, who lives in a room in Jameson Hall, which he shares with two other students.

“All three families were in at the same time,” added roommate Craig Smith ’07, who expressed his frustration with having 11 people in the crowded space at the same time.

Each year, freshmen adapt to the living quarters they have been assigned to, whether they are placed in a single, a triple or a single-sex residence hall. But despite the rumors circulating about emergency accommodations, this year’s freshman class seems to be settling in just as well as every other.

According to Pam Zinder ’82, manager of housing alternatives, despite the overenrollment of the freshman class, “Nothing is different than last year. … We had singles, doubles and triples.”

Zinder admits that accommodating all of the freshmen this year has been made easier because of the elimination of the January freshman program, an initiative unrelated to this semester’s overenrollment. All of the students in the Class of 2007 will be occupying housing in the fall so that no rooms need to be reserved for housing freshmen later in the year.

Some doubles are being converted into triples, but Zinder insists that all accommodations follow the legal limits of the space.

“We have flexibility,” Zinder said of the dormitory rooms. “[Some] are legally sized to have three people in them. Some years we opt to use them as triples, some we opt to use them as doubles. We used the same number last year, or more, of triples.”

Zinder admits that legal space and comfortable space may not be one and the same for all students.

“Some people are satisfied and some are not. … We set up the space to accommodate the furniture we need to,” she said.

Each student will have the requisite bed, desk, chair and closet. Personal items, however, might require more creative layouts, or in some cases, have to be left out altogether.

“I brought a boombox and decided not to keep it here for space reasons,” Collins said.

Yet while some students had to send items home, others found their housing to be better than expected. Although Kyle Dumont ’07 lives in a single, which he requested, he said, “Most kids I’ve met in doubles and triples are pretty happy about it.”

Jaime Westbrook ’07 agreed, praising the diversity of the freshman class and the opportunity to meet new people.

She, unlike Collins, has a single, with more room for all of her personal items.

“It didn’t look like home until I had all my stuff in it,” Westbrook said.

Archived article by Stephanie Baritz