In the dawn of the new academic year, the College welcomed the Class of 2027 consisting of 608 new students. With a large student population, housing has faced a great deal of strain in recent years. Though the opening of the Johnson Pond Houses provided more housing options for students and there are plans in place to build more dormitories, the size of the student body still outpaces available housing options, leaving many students forced to live in “adapted spaces.” Adapted spaces are those that have been adjusted to fit an extra person, such as a double accommodating three people or a triple accommodating four people. Adapted spaces are typically more cramped, and oftentimes school-issued furniture does not fit in the room leaving some students without a desk or wardrobe in order to accommodate an additional bed. Though students of all class years may live in adapted spaces, underclassmen are the students primarily affected by this issue.
Recently, housing has implemented its first round of de-adaption for the academic year. Housing plans to initiate several rounds of de-adapting opportunities as different spaces become available. The current round of de-adaption was rolled out in two phases, one for upperclassmen and one for freshmen.
“6% of upperclassmen and 17% of first year students living in an adapted space opted into the de-adapting process,” said Kristina Latorre, Assistant Director of Housing Operations. Although all students living in an adapted room have the opportunity to apply to de-adapt, due to space limitations, it is not guaranteed that every student can be reassigned to a new space.
“Students in adapted spaces with the smallest square footage per person will be the first to be offered a new space, and offers will continue in this order until there are no remaining spaces,” Latorre said. In the most recent fall round of de-adaption, all students who applied and met the documentation requirements were able to be placed into a new space.
Housing was able to find vacancies for its most recent round of de-adaption to relocate students from last-minute changes that primarily occurred over the summer.
“It is not uncommon over the summer or after the August waitlist room draw process, that students change their status with the College, [which] can include study abroad participation, leave of absence, transfer, or no longer choosing to attend Colby,” said Latorre. Housing monitors these changes in status to track new vacancies throughout the year “Our housing inventory changes frequently as students’ needs and plans may change,” added Latorre.
“There was so little floor space it was ridiculous,” said Evelyn Araujo `27 of her adapted triple in West Quad. “There was no room for furniture, and it was impossible to store things,” she added. Araujo has since been relocated into a spacious double in East Quad.
“We had nearly an unlivable amount of space,” said Rachel Berliner `27 of her adapted triple before one of her roommates opted into the de-adaption process. Though they are thankful to have newfound living space, they say the process was challenging. Berliner and Araujo agree that the de-adaption process was “stressful” logistically and in waiting for approval. Leila Gerry `27, who has relocated from her adapted triple into East Quad described her adapted triple with Berliner as “unbelievably cramped,” and described having to “store laundry on the foot of [her] twin XL” because of a lack of storage space and having to “climb into a tiny nook to get to the shared desk.” Gerry added that the moving process was hectic because “I found out where I was moving the day I had to move.” Several students who were eligible to apply for de-adaption decided not to apply because they felt it was too difficult to move into a new room without any assistance under a tight timeline.
Though housing ensured that all first year students who chose to relocate from their adapted space would still be paired with freshmen roommates, moving into a space that is not dedicated to freshmen poses new challenges. “There’s the issue of how are freshmen gonna fit in, and are they gonna be comfortable with living with students who are potentially much older than them,” said an anonymous Community Advisor in an upperclassmen dorm. They added, “a lot of our programming is geared towards the upperclassmen. So, if you suddenly have a big mix of class years you have to think about your programming and your target audience a bit differently to compensate for everyone.” On the opposite side, adapted spaces pose a different set of challenges to CAs because they are typically more prone to conflict.
“If it’s an adapted space, they’re adding an extra person in there because they need to, even if they’re not the best fit from the roommate questionnaire, and just a good enough fit,” said the anonymous CA. Possible personality clashes coupled with tight living quarters make adapted spaces more prone to having difficulties that CAs need to facilitate resolving. The issue of students needing to live in adapted spaces stems from the unprecedented size of the student population, which outpaces initiatives to build new student housing. The College plans to provide more opportunities for de-adaption throughout the academic year for all interested students to be relocated into larger living quarters. For those moving into their new spaces this past weekend, their new rooms are a welcome breath of fresh air.
~ Megan Ferland `27