University Foresees Changes as Student Population Grows

By Amanda Hopkins
With just 20 minutes before class starts, freshman Lisa Aiello is circling her room looking for a book. The night before, she left it on the floor after a late night study session, but now she cannot seem to find it under the mess on her floor. With two other roommates, space is always an issue and things tend to get misplaced. And with finals coming up, this is the last thing she needs.
Aiello is one of the many freshmen who were tripled this year, due to the large number of students residing on campus. At the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, about 300 rooms were tripled, forcing students to share the already small 12-by-16 foot rooms with two other roommates.
“I did not like it at all,” said Heather Higgins, who was tripled for the first two months of school. “There is not enough room for three people to live comfortably in a standard-sized dorm.”
Most students agree that the lack of space is the worst part of the tripling experience. “It was a good and bad experience,” said Ashley Crossland. “Good, because I enjoyed having two people to spend time with. Bad, because there wasn’t enough room. And there was a little bit of fighting between roommates.”
Throughout the semester, students have the opportunity to de-triple. Most students accept the offer, while others decide to stay tripled. According to Vice President for Student Life Preston Herring, about 30 percent of students choose to remain tripled each year. Currently, 39 rooms are still tripled, 36 of them are voluntary.
Next year, the university anticipates about 2,389 incoming freshman for the 2009-2010 school year, about 100 more students than the university admitted in 2008.
Many Bloomsburg University students say the availability of campus housing is a problem, but University President David Soltz disagrees.
“We anticipate admitting 100 additional new freshman/transfer students at the same time that we’re opening the new 544-apartment complex on the upper campus,” Soltz said. “So there is not a lack of housing.”
While the new apartment complex will alleviate some of the congestion on lower campus, as well as give upperclassmen the opportunity for their own place, some students are still not satisfied.
“If you ask me, they are too far out of the way for my liking,” said Eric Brant, who resided in Elwell this past year. Drew Gamber agreed that the university should concentrate on building more residence halls, rather than more apartments.
Prior to the housing process, the university sent out a mass e-mail to students, urging upperclassmen (including sophomores) to move to upper campus, leaving new freshman to reside in the lower campus dorms. Hopeful students who applied for an apartment were disappointed when the apartments filled up by the third day of sign ups. Residence Life staff said that they had not expected the apartments to fill so quickly.
Next year, about 1,100 students will reside on upper campus, opening spaces on lower campus for the incoming freshman. According to Soltz, Bloomsburg University will still have about 175 tripled rooms at the start of the fall semester, which is consistent with previous years.
Soltz said that the availability of student housing includes spaces both on and off campus. “Student housing in the community is not growing significantly, but there are approximately 100 additional spaces that will be available in town for new, safe and well-constructed housing that will open in the fall and which will provide more options for transfer and upper class students.”
As of now, there are no plans to build more apartments or residence halls. However, the current residence halls will undergo renovations during summer 2009.
The university will see other changes as well as the university grows and demands rise. The university plans to hire new faculty to accommodate the increased student body, leaving class sizes to stay nearly the same. New visitation rules will also be enforced.
“I think it is important to note that we are the university of choice for many students in our region, state and beyond,” said Soltz. “For fall 2009, we have reached a number of applications, more than 11,000 so far. Consequently, we are able to accommodate only a small percentage of those who would like to attend BU.”

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