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Close quarters: first-years share alternative housing experiences

The College currently does not have enough dorm rooms to comfortably house all students on campus. This is due to a combination of the overenrollement of the Class of 2025 and the fact that many of the students who planned to go abroad this semester were unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The first year students living in “forced” triples and quads are the most affected by this. The school refers to these rooms as “adapted spaces,” but most students call them forced rooms.

The term “forced” refers to dorm rooms with an extra person. These rooms were initially designed to house either two or three students, but an extra person was added. According to the school, approximately 47% of first year dorm rooms are adapted spaces this semester.

Many of these forced triples and quads are too small to comfortably fit the number of students living in them, students say. The school has had to make adjustments to the rooms to fit these students. Some students now sleep on bunk beds, and many of these rooms do not have the proper number of dressers, desks, or closets.

According to the school, these adapted spaces are a short-term solution to address the specific circumstances that led to the higher-than-expected number of students on campus this semester.

“Our hope is that this situation is only for the current term and that study abroad programs will resume next semester, which will allow the College to return some rooms to their original occupancy,” said Jess Manno, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Campus Life. “For the longer term, the College is currently working on plans to build new residence halls to provide additional diverse housing options for students.”

First year students placed in these rooms were given $500 as compensation.

Ruby Venturelli `25 is a first year student on the swim team living in a forced triple in Averill. Ruby said she gets along well with her roommates and that living in a forced triple has not affected her experience at the College too much.

A few things, however, have been difficult for Venturelli. Limited furniture, for example, has been a challenge.

Venturelli and her two roommates have to share two desks and two dressers between the three of them.

“It’s been an adjustment,” Venturelli said. “We only have two desks, so we can’t all work in our room if we wanted to.”

Venturelli also feels that finding time alone is difficult given her living situation.

“Everything’s jam-packed in one room, ” she said. “If I needed privacy I’d go somewhere else, because we’re either all coming and going, or we’re all in there at the same time.”

However, Venturelli has found some strategies that help her manage living in a forced triple.

“I figured out when my roommates have class when I need to study alone in the room, or I just go to the library and find a quiet room if I need to focus,” Venturelli explained.

Venturelli also mentioned that keeping her room clean helps her and her roommates manage living in a small space. She also acknowledged that her room is larger than some of the other forced triples and quads on campus.

“My room is a little bit bigger than other people’s, but I’ve seen rooms where there is barely any space to walk around,” Venturelli said.

Edward Wu `25 is a member of the ultimate frisbee team and lives in a forced quad in Johnson. Like Venturelli, he gets along well with his roommates, but has found the lack of space to be challenging.

Wu sleeps on the top bunk of a bunk bed and he and his roommates share three desks among the four of them. Wu feels that privacy and time alone do not exist in his living situation.

Students living in similar situations to Wu and Venturelli have had to look for places on campus outside of their dorm rooms to find time to themselves.

“If we ever need privacy, usually our common room is empty, so we’ll go there,” Wu said.

Living with roommates always requires compromise and communication. Tensions can easily arise even between those students who have a room with the proper number of people. Adding another roommate to the mix can make a living situation even more complicated, especially for first years who are new to the College and do not get to pick their roommates.

Many students placed in these forced rooms feel that their situation is very unfair. They think that the $500 they were given as compensation by the College is not enough, and they feel that they deserve to have more living space.

If students are able to go abroad next semester, there will soon be more available housing on campus, and first year students like Wu and Venturelli may have more space.

~ Veronica McIntyre `24

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