Student Housing: Off-campus housing near capacity

Student Housing: Off-campus housing near capacity

By Kyle Moores for The Daily Gamecock

This fall, several off-campus housing complexes saw increases in occupancy while University Housing made space for thousands of students despite the closing of one of its dorms for renovation.

Housing Director Kirsten Kennedy said that despite losing roughly 605 beds while Patterson Hall is being renovated this academic year and facing the arrival of the largest incoming freshman class in school history, the University Housing office only saw a housing wait list increase of roughly 30 students.

Kennedy said that the method used to place students in housing is the reason so many students were successfully housed despite the loss of bed space and the large freshman class.

“We have to plan housing for upperclassmen the following year before we know the size of the freshman class then figure where to place the freshman when space becomes limited,” Kennedy said.

The assignment process for upperclassmen is a lottery that randomly picks students for housing to ensure everyone is given a fair shot at getting a space.

To accommodate the record number of freshmen, who are required to live on campus during their first year, University Housing was forced to get creative in order to assure that everyone was given a space.

“This year we have some [Resident Mentors] living with roommates in places where they would normally have a room to themselves to ensure everyone had a place,” Kennedy said.

Although University Housing was able to fit as many students as possible, ultimately not all students who applied for campus housing could be placed into the dorms. Students who turned to off-campus housing were also faced with limited spaces that filled quickly.

University Oaks reported that occupancy is currently at 100 percent. The Woodlands is at 99-percent capacity, similar to their occupancy from the fall of 2009. Copper Beech reached 100-percent capacity, compared to 96 percent in 2009. Stadium Suites is at 98-percent capacity, considerably higher than their occupancy rate in 2009.

For some students, the move off campus was relatively stress-free and provided a refreshing change. Third-year criminal justice student Mike Paglucci said the decision to move off campus was an easy one.

“I was tired of living on campus, so when I didn’t get housing on campus, I wasn’t too concerned,” Paglucci said. “I also was fortunate enough to know people who already lived off campus, so I had a good idea of where I wanted to live.”

Kennedy said that construction on Patterson Hall is running on schedule, and the building will be ready to re-open next fall for the 2011-12 school year, although at a slightly smaller capacity.

“When Patterson reopens, it will have approximately 560 to 570 beds,” Kennedy said.

The reason for the reduced capacity, Kennedy said, is that the dorm is being reconfigured to a suite-style format.

“Students have said that the suite style is preferred, so we are trying to accommodate them with this renovation,” Kennedy said.

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