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Housing squeeze to continue in spring

The growing numbers of incoming students and the cancellation of many study-abroad programs have put pressure on the College’s Residential Life program this semester. Many students have expressed concerns regarding their living conditions and hope to find more comfortable housing options next semester and in the future.

Lucy Wang `23 has heard rumors of students planning to change dorms next semester.

“I know there are a few students considering changing their dorms,” she said. “I heard a few first year students are living in [forced] triples now.”

President David Greene said in his email that 180 students will be leaving campus in the spring to study abroad, bringing some relief to the thin-stretched housing.

However, according to Michael Blasco, Assistant Director of Housing Operations, since there are students studying abroad this semester or taking a gap semester who will be returning to campus in the spring, the total numbers of students on campus will remain approximately the same.

“Traditionally, there [was] more room vacancy in the spring than in the fall, but there are a lot of students both coming and going,” Blasco said.

Students who are not on campus during the fall semester will participate in a mid-year room draw process and select rooms based on vacancy, while other students that want to switch their dorms will not go through this process.

“Compared to students eager to change their rooms, campus housing will prioritize room selection for students not on campus in the fall semester since they do not have any living spaces [yet],” Blasco explained.

“[There will not be] a significant number of empty rooms [in the spring],” Jess Manno, Associate Dean of Students for Students Leadership and Residential Education, added. “[Unless] there is a specific concern for the dorm students are living [in] currently, they will remain in the same space since the dorms [they chose] are for the whole academic year.”

Greene mentioned that at the most recent Board of Trustees meeting, the board endorsed a housing plan which will provide a major expansion of on-campus housing. This planning began in order to create a more comprehensive solution for housing problems.

The plan has three phases. In the first phase, four residential houses that can accommodate 200 students total will be built along Johnson Pond, just behind East and West Quads. These will be ready for occupancy in August 2022 and are designed for first- and second-year students, featuring rooms for one, two, or three students.

“Students will have an in-depth participation [with the housing construction],” Manno said. “These types of housing are driven by students’ need and based on the buildings’ capacity.”

The second building phase is for a residential building on Mayflower Hill Drive across from Diamond and adjacent to Mary Low. This will be primarily for juniors and seniors, with individual rooms in suites or apartments. This residential hall is expected to open in the fall of 2024.

The last phase will be the largest project — the design and construction of a new residential and dining building on the current site of the Roberts parking lot, which will include housing for several hundred students. This is also designed for juniors and seniors and is expected to open in the fall of 2025.

“This renovation of residential halls will modernize housing spaces and provide more diverse housing options to students,” Manno said.

Many students, including Wang, agree that constructing new housing is an important endeavor for the College to take.

“I think [building more residential halls] is the best option for the College to improve living conditions,” Wang said.

For current residential halls, there will be renovations each summer conducted by the College’s facilities to sustain comfortable living conditions.

~ Kristen Shen `24

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