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Get more beds, not more students

After a record-breaking acceptance year, Colby College faced a challenge that no one expected. Despite having a lower acceptance rate than any prior year, too many students in the Class of 2025 accepted their admissions offer and their class was over-enrolled.

While this created a myriad of problems, including challenges getting into required classes and overcrowded dining halls, the biggest issue was the housing situation.

Between the number of first-years, along with COVID-19 induced cancellations of many study-abroad programs, including the Global Entry Semester program for first years, there was not enough space for all of the students who needed to live on campus in the fall.

The College responded to this issue in several ways. They created a number of adapted spaces, turning doubles into triples and triples into quads. The majority of first-years were put into these rooms.

While Colby had enough beds for everyone, they did not have enough furniture, which led to many rooms lacking desks, dressers, and wardrobes for all of a room’s inhabitants. To compensate for these situations, the College extended a credit of $500 to all students for each semester they were in an adapted space.

Even with adapted spaces, however, the College did not have enough space for all students on campus. It housed several sophomores in the Lockwood Hotel in downtown Waterville, which were outfitted with dorm furniture. Like students in adapted spaces, Lockwood students also got $500 for each semester they were in residence

Spencer Schaller ’24 lives in Lockwood and discussed with The Colby Echo how it negatively affects him.

“As someone who can only study in my room, it definitely hindered me academically and I am still feeling the ramifications,” he said. “It is hard for me to do work on campus if I do not have my own space, but that means I have to drive back and forth normally two or three times a day in order to get work done.”

He went on to mention other ways living in the Lockwood affects him.

“Definitely my study habits and academic life have taken a hit. I feel more flustered than I normally do and disorganized — which, as an organized person, I very much dislike,” he said.

While some students were able to move out of adapted spaces and the Lockwood, the housing issues do not seem like they have ended.

Colby is currently building four more dorms, which are meant to house 200 first-years and sophomores. They also plan to build several more buildings over the next few years, which will help with David Greene’s plan to expand the College.

The catch is that this expansion plan will take years to complete, doing little for the College’s current housing crunch.

Only two of the four Johnson Pond houses are supposed to be finished by the fall of 2022, adding only 100 new beds. While this may help the Class of 2025, the College will still lack beds if the Class of 2026 over-enrolls.

In anticipation of the Class of 2026, which could be as large as the Class of 2025, the College has not ruled out the Lockwood as a housing option for rising sophomores. The way the room draw will work for the rising sophomores is that 200 out of the 654 students will be put on a waitlist and will not be able to pick housing until all the first-years are situated. If there are not enough rooms, this means the Lockwood might be used for housing again next year.

Kaitlyn Hurley ’25 explained that Colby does not provide enough support in the already challenging process.

“I know that several people in [the Class of 2025] mentioned to me that they wanted to do random roommates next year and I think it’s [bad] that Colby doesn’t make it clear that [random roommates] isn’t an option … Colby should be providing more options and better support to students,” she said.

Another student in the Class of 2025 anonymously expressed her displeasure with the way Colby was handling the housing situation.

“I don’t think it’s fair that our class is getting the worst housing two years in a row when it’s not our fault that our grade is so big, and they accepted even more students, before they have the beds for them,” Hurley said.

As for the Class of 2026, all the adapted spaces are no longer considered adapted, which means they will be stuck in rooms that are too small, without the correct amount of furniture, and they do not get any compensation.

And, for rising sophomores who have to live in the Lockwood next semester, Schaller has advice for you.

“I hope you are able to get work done at school and have good friends that you can stay over with on weekends,” he said.

~ Mairead Levitt `25

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