April 7, 2009

Larger Class Size Forces Housing Squeeze

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In anticipation of an increase in the size of its incoming freshman class, Cornell is preparing to adopt a flexible housing plan to accommodate the needs of its students.
The University, expecting to enroll 3,150 students, 100 more than the usual exepected freshman class size at Cornell, will likely have to implement a similar housing arrangement for the Class of 2013 as it had done for this year’s freshmen class.
Cornell was able to free space this year on North Campus by expanding doubles into triples, forcing an more cramped but necessary living situation for some freshmen.
Despite this effort to increase the student living capacity at the 10 residential halls on North Campus, there was still a shortage of rooms, forcing some freshmen into program houses even though they did not apply to live there.
With the difficulties in housing freshmen this year, questions were raised as to how Cornell would be able manage an even larger freshmen class this coming fall.
Karen Brown, director of campus life marketing and communications, is confident that the University will be prepared for the Class of 2013, claiming that a large class size is not an unfamiliar situation for Cornell.
“Our incoming first-year class target for 2009-2010 is planned to be slightly larger than this year’s first-year class, but we have had first-year classes of this size or larger in the past,” Brown stated in an e-mail.
“Each year, we adjust some rooms slightly to accommodate one more or one fewer students. Because of this flexibility, we will not have a problem accommodating this year’s first-year class target of 3,150 students.”
However, these accommodations would not eliminate the possibility for freshmen to be placed into program houses again next fall.
In addition to the University’s struggles in providing housing for its incoming freshmen, Cornell is currently dealing with a housing dilemma for its rising sophomore class.
Due to the high demand for on-campus housing this year among upperclassmen, the University was not able to house all sophomores who participated in the housing lottery.
Although all sophomore participants in the housing lottery are guaranteed housing, a few students found themselves placed on a “guaranteed wait list.”
Students on the “guaranteed wait list” would receive campus housing only if a student who already received housing decided to change their housing plans for the next academic year.
Brown also addressed this housing issue for sophomores, stating, “After online room selection, we had 29 male students on our Guaranteed Wait List. To date, 22 of those 29 students have received on-campus housing. We will continue to work with the remaining seven students to find them on-campus housing.”
Brown concluded her e-mail by stating that this is a process in which the Cornell Housing Office undergoes each spring and summer. All that Cornell Housing can possibly do is, “continue to work with students to address their need to the best of [their] ability,” Brown stated.
After having experienced the hardships of the housing lottery, many students offered not only complaints about on-campus housing, but also some possible solutions as to how the housing system could be improved at Cornell.
Due to the room shortage at West Campus and Collegetown residential halls, Rachel DeSantis ’12 will be living on North Campus again next year at Ujamaa Residential College, although she did not request the program house.
When asked as to how Cornell could improve its housing system in the future, DeSantis suggested that during the online room selection process, students who plan on living in singles should only be allowed to reserve a room in a single, while those who already made roommate arrangements should receive priority in reserving a double.
DeSantis also felt that the Online Housing Selection process was unnecessarily stressful. She said, “ I feel like the housing portal should have been organized better. It was a free for all, just chaotic.”
Jared Hartzman ’12 felt that he avoided a lot of stress by organizing his housing arrangements for next year by deciding to live off campus, a trend that seems to be increasing in recent years among sophomores.
“I will be living in a house in Collegetown next year with seven other roommates. They are all people I know well so I’m glad that I didn’t participate in the housing lottery where I could potentially be rooming with people I have never met before,” said Hartzman.
Hartzman continues, “I don’t regret living off-campus at all. I highly recommend next year’s freshmen to live off-campus and get a guaranteed good housing arrangement.”