Drexel University Housing has assigned over 100 incoming freshmen to share rooms with upperclassmen for the 2011 fall quarter due to residence hall overcrowding, housing director Joe Russo said Sept. 9 in an email to upperclassmen who would be affected by the move.
The announcement was the latest in a series of overflow housing measures implemented to accommodate the largest freshman class in the University’s history. After it became clear that non-temporary assignments to triple-occupancy rooms in Towers Hall and lounge rooms in Kelly, Calhoun and Myers halls would be insufficient to cover the need for extra beds, University Housing temporarily assigned freshman roommates to 49 resident assistants and 120 upperclass residents, including 46 pairs of upperclass roommates whose rooms were converted to triple occupancy.
“As of Sept. 11, 2,899 freshmen, 1,079 upperclassmen, 91 transfer, 49 Gateway, 37 exchange and two [English Language Center] students have been assigned to University Housing,” Rita LaRue, senior associate vice president for Drexel Business Services, said while providing The Triangle with updated information on the overflow situation as of Sept. 11.
With regard to temporary assignments, LaRue confirmed that there are 49 freshmen assigned to live with resident assistants in Myers, Kelly, Calhoun and Millennium halls, 28 freshmen assigned to live with upperclassmen who did not previously have roommate assignments, and 46 freshmen assigned to triple rooms with two upperclass roommates. Another 18 freshmen will live in the Embassy Suites at 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway for up to three weeks and will be the first freshmen to be reassigned to permanent rooms as space becomes available on campus.
When the plan to assign roommates to RAs was first announced, some RAs expressed concern regarding the social implications of sharing a room with one of their residents. Senior Vince Petaccio described in detail his concerns for the welfare of freshman residents and expressed his intent to discuss the matter with President John A. Fry during RA training week. Lawrence Jones, an RA in Millennium Hall who was assigned a roommate, echoed Petaccio’s concerns.
“While getting a roommate as an RA isn’t the best situation, we have to think about the students first,” Jones said. “Being placed temporarily with the RA just to be moved to another room isn’t the best environment for a first-year student trying to adjust to college. As RAs we have to make sure that the students come out on top and they don’t let this affect them academically or mentally.”
Following the latest developments in the situation, Petaccio said there was a diverse mix of reactions from freshmen who were assigned to RA rooms.
“Some are angry, some are excited and some are just planning on living out of a suitcase for a few weeks,” Petaccio said. He also mentioned that Fry’s office did not respond to emails or in-person inquiries from the RA staff.
Race Street Residences, with a normal maximum capacity of 476 residents and 10 RAs, will house only 145 sophomores this fall after initially being designated as an all-sophomore building prior to the enactment of any portion of the overflow plan, according to LaRue. Other sophomores who were previously assigned to Race are now scattered across campus. In addition to students who were moved to Drexel’s regular upperclass residence halls, LaRue said there are “101 returning students and 46 transfer students at The Axis” and “16 returning and 16 transfer students at Stiles Hall.” LaRue added that all reassignments to Stiles Hall were voluntary.
The latest moves in the housing situation have prompted some students to seek housing elsewhere.
“Through phone calls and emails, University Housing has identified about 25 upperclassmen who did not plan to return but had not canceled their housing agreement,” LaRue said. “Between the time the final assignments were made on Sept. 10 and today, Sept. 12, two freshmen have requested housing cancellations. Neither were in temporary assignments.”
LaRue said University Housing would continue to work closely with the Residential Living Office to ensure that all residential students receive appropriate support wherever they are.