From the pattern of the past two years, incoming freshman class sizes seem to trend bigger and bigger. This sounds exciting, as more people joining the campus community is always welcomed. However, we’ve also seen that these classes’ living situations become more and more tight.
Earlier this academic year, we saw issues with students being placed into temporary housing that included kitchenettes and lounges. The latter are often converted into dorms, replacing a common area for students who would otherwise have nowhere to go. Some students were also incentivized to move into triples and quads, putting up to four kids into one space.
Having enough housing for students is obviously important, but what might be lost on some is that simply having a place to sleep and store a wardrobe isn’t enough. A dorm must do more than simply provide the bare necessities; it must sell the student on the college experience.
That may sound like a reach, but when one remembers that your typical student will spend a majority of their college experience in one
room, that room has to be really, really good.
Getting along with a roommate is already tough, but balancing the thoughts and opinions and habits of
two, three other people can be a job in its own right. That’s a whole lot of stress to put on freshman, many of whom are still trying to figure out what it means to live on your own.
Furthermore, converting common areas into living spaces also denies a critical space for other types of development to occur. Lounges provide the perfect space to meet new people, avoid stressful roommates and study together. If Duquesne brands dorms as “Living Learning Centers,” then they must be spaces that fulfill the latter half of that promise by providing not just a room to sleep in, but a place to develop into a person.
We can’t pretend we know the solution to this problem, but looking at just how many students are being admitted at once might be a place to
start. Duquesne isn’t a big campus at all, and unless more housing is added (which seems unlikely), it will and should remain that way.
Similarly, reconsidering housing rules may also provide an opportunity for change. Opening up more buildings to freshmen, for example, is an option, as is dropping the on campus living requirement from two years to one. The University of Pittsburgh only requires one year, and it seems to be doing fine.
Whatever the case, in light of the upcoming housing lottery, we remain slightly apprehensive for the incoming class. If things continue as is, we
might see another year of fraught housing situations.