By 2:30 p.m. on the first day of the housing lottery, there were no spots left on the housing selection website, leaving one and a half days of students without a set place to live for the coming year. The result? Widespread panic among the rising sophomore class thatthere would be no on-campus housing left for them at all.
Elected Sophomore Class representative Sophie Cardin said, “numerous people came to the first-year class reps asking what was going on with housing.” On May 1, Room Assignment and Conference Manager Rochelle Taylor sent out an email allowing students who did not receive housing on the first day of selection to log back in at 1 p.m. New housing, primarily in the three freshman dorms, was made available on the housing selection website on a first-come first-serve basis. This was done to try to calm the student body, and the administration says next year there will need to be some recalibration to ensure reactions are not as panicked.
As of Monday May 6, there are 43 sophomores without assigned housing. These students were encouraged to add their names to the waitlist along with students who chose rooms they are unhappy with. All will receive housing assignments by the beginning of the school year.
After Rochelle’s email was sent, the Class of 2022 Facebook group buzzed with anxious responses. At 3:43 p.m. sophomore Jack O’Holloran posted “Anyone else literally not have a room for next year?” Cardin got in touch with housing and posted in the group that evening, making sure people know that everyone is “still guaranteed housing on campus.” Every member of the residential life department confirmed that this will be the case and recommended that students without housing get on the waitlist.
The Facebook group “Colorado College Parents” was buzzing as well. Hazel Porter, mother of current first-year Lauren Porter, posted a list of questions after her daughter didn’t receive housing. She ended the post with “kind of ticked, [frowny face].”
If housing is still guaranteed, why was this year so much more contentious than last? Though there is still enough housing for everyone, there is less housing on campus overall. In 2018, there were 1,691 beds on campus, compared to 1,641 this year for a similar number of people. The demolition of the Inn scheduled for next year dropped about 90 rooms, replaced by only 60 in East Campus. Paired with the change from class standing to semesters on campus, the housing market at CC is about 3% tighter this year than last.
While some students also blamed more seniors living on campus due to changes in housing ownership, the associate vice president for student life, John Lauer, denies this. There are about the same number of seniors living on campus as off this year, and more Senior Cottages have been added each year for the past few years.
It’s important to understand that the most drastic changes are in the number of vacant rooms on campus. This past year, 5% of Colorado College beds were empty: a total of 83 open beds. This coming year, that percentage will likely be around 4%: about 65 vacancies. This number is an estimate because the number of freshman students to attend in the fall is not yet confirmed.
There is, however, historical precedence. Three years ago, before East Campus housing was built, there were 1,649 with 79 vacancies. Last year, there was a much higher housing surplus than in previous years. Director of Residential Life Bethany Grubbs, pointed out the importance of looking at historical precedence to explain the level of stress over housing among first-years this year. “For the rising sophomores, the history they know and that they particularly care about is last year, because that’s the narrative that they hear from their fellow students,” Grubbs said. “It is hard to overcome that perception and just say, hey, three years ago we were in the same boat that we are now.”
What does this mean for students? Because housing elasticity went down from last year, Grubbs and Lauer suggested there will be less dingles (student lingo for a double with one resident) and more forced triples at the beginning of the year. “I think there is a good possibility that we will have some people in temporary triples,” Lauer said. “When a student doesn’t come (on the first day) we are moving someone immediately from that triple into a double, so the person doesn’t ever get used to not having a roommate.”
They were confident that the forced triples will only be temporary to account for melt but said “a lot of this depends on (freshman) yield.” Grubbs described the causes of melt being admissions yield, transfer students, students taking time off from school, study abroad, waitlist fluctuations, and changes in living environments through the year. “It’s a really complicated and ever moving process.”
They also said that sophomores will be far more likely to live in the Big 3 doubles. Winter Starts are a bit more complicated, which means most people with dingles at the beginning of the year will be asked to move in with another fall start or have a winter start move in with them. While ideally they would leave doubles open, the room change flexibility at CC makes it difficult to do this while still allowing people to change rooms often.
Grubbs suggested these changes could be a good thing. “It makes more sense to me that they have that pivotal experience on campus: the roommate experience, sharing the bathroom experience,” Grubbs said. “I mean, all of that is developmental to get them along the journey of being good community members and good citizens.”
There are efforts to help students obtain housing closer to their ideal. There are still rooms in Living Learning Communities, and the residential life department plans to advertise these communities and make sure everyone already in them wants to be there. They are “open to moving things around.”
“Start working with someone that you know, whether it’s your RLC or Bethany or Rochelle Taylor, about possibilities and options, as well as how can we help you manage the stress and anxiety of not having a room right now,” Lauer said. “You’ll have a room; it’s just going to take a bit of process.” Students should expect their room placement by mid-summer.