College converts rooms to accommodate requests

by Kent Sutton | 10/1/14 7:05pm

The office of residential life received around 3,740 housing requests for fall term, requiring spaces in Cutter-Shabazz Hall, Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity, Delta Delta Delta sorority and the Chinese Language House to convert into bedrooms. Director of undergraduate housing Rachael Class-Giguere attributed the residential squeeze largely to the influx of the Class of 2018, the largest class in Dartmouth’s history.

The closure of Panarchy undergraduate society’s house over the summer also contributed, as students planning to live there this fall were forced to join the housing wait list. The initial housing wait list had 123 students, and the late wait list contained around 45 students. While the housing office was able to accommodate all students on the first wait list, only 15 on the second wait list were offered housing. Class-Giguere said most students who did not receive housing on campus found places to live off campus or pursued internship opportunities instead of taking classes.

Due to the high demand, the housing office had to find new spaces to convert into residential rooms.

Justin Levine ’16, a member of Alpha Chi, initially received housing through the office of residential life, but volunteered to move into his fraternity house when the housing office asked Alpha Chi to convert its first floor study space into a bedroom.

“We’ve all been upset that we lost the study space, but we were told that if nobody from the fraternity took the room, they would put a random person in it,” he said.

Levine said he was comfortable taking the room because of its decent size and full bathroom, but wishes he had a closet.

Alpha Chi president Noah Reichblum ’15 said the fraternity added tables in the front room for studying purposes, and will use its chapter room as a study space. He said he was pleased that an additional brother could live in the house this term, as the fraternity often receives more requests than available rooms.

Dustin Ponder ’17 said he had a bad lottery number and was anxious all summer about his living situation for the fall. In August, he and the housing office worked out a plan to convert a common room in Cutter-Shabazz Hall into a bedroom. Though he said he felt bad about taking away a common space, he said the room is spacious and he has found the community very welcoming.

In addition to creating new residential rooms, the housing office assigned students to accommodations they did not request, including living learning communities, affinity houses and substance-free housing.

Class-Giguere said that four upperclassmen who were placed in living learning communities they did not request for the fall term have been given the option to move to another residence hall in the winter.

When housing accommodations do not have sufficient occupancy, then the housing office must assign students to spaces they did not request, Class-Giguere said

“We can’t leave the floor empty,” she said.

Several freshmen who did not request East Wheelock were placed there.

Rachel Hand ’18 said that she requested to be in a double room in a traditional residence hall, but in July she learned that the housing office had placed her in East Wheelock.

“I was a little upset initially, but I actually love it,” Hand said. “I love the quietness.”

Morven Chin ’18 is also adjusting to living in East Wheelock, despite not having applied to live there.

“I was happy that I was placed in a suite with a common area, but I didn’t really have an opinion on being in an LLC just because I didn’t know anything about what it would be like,” he said.

Levine is a member of The Dartmouth’s business staff. Reichblum is a former member of The Dartmouth staff.

Correction appended (Oct. 2, 2014):

The initial version of this article's headline misspelled "accommodate"