By Allison Nekola & Shapleigh Webster – Co-Editor-in-Chief & Copy Editor
While Lasell’s state of change and growth is celebrated, it also poses a problem because of lack of beds around classes. The traditional process of getting students onto campus and into the appropriate residences proved to be inadiquite. Resident Assistants and administration faced multiple challenges when it came to dealing with this issue.
In years past, forgetful students who missed the deadline for deposit, room-draw, or registration could be placed during the summer, however this year, with the influx of applicants and return- ing students, such students were not so lucky.
“The folks who were guaranteed beds, who went through room-draw and deposited by May 1 were getting rooms,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Diane Austin. “The folks who deposited thereafter or are returners who may have deposited to be a returning student, went through registration but did not go through room-draw, we still contacted for 10 days after, saying ‘Come in and get a room.’ Now it’s after May 1, we have to house those new incoming students.”
May 1 is the deposit deadline for incoming students who plan on living on-campus. Students who did not go through room-draw, deposited late, decided over the summer they wanted to be resident, or applied over the summer were placed on a waiting list, a very long waiting list..
“No matter what business you’re in… you have historical data, you have longitudinal data, and you are always use that as your guide point. When we are talking about projections, how many total students and how many of those will be residents and how many of those will commute, we use a running average of over the last two or three years because our profile just keeps changing,” Austin said. “Our retention rate keeps ticking up, which is something we worked really hard to achieve.”
Early second semester, the Office of Residential Life pulled together data, including graduating students, historical data about returning students, incoming classes, and students who may choose to live off-campus. With of all this data, they come up with a prediction of how many students will need housing. Some factors skew these numbers; such as students planning to study abroad, or those who have been placed on academic probation.
Due to the rising retention rate, around February and March Austin, Kate O’Connor, Dean Hennessey, and a senior management team got together to “make a formal decision to completely re-do the lower level of Ordway and recapture those six beds,” according to Austin. Then to maximize capacity, another decision was made to relocate the Center for Spiritual Life and counseling from Case House, which has a dorm permit, to Maple Terrace thus recapturing 13 more beds. The work didn’t stop there.
Lasell’s unique Victorian houses allow for “true singles,” where many Resident Assistants live. Other facilities with true singles are Brag- don. Buttworth and Forrest six-man suites, but other hotel style dorms, such as Holt and Rockwell, have no true singles. In all available and possible situations, RAs were relocated to true singles. Only 11 had to face a probable situation of living with a roommate.
While it may seem taboo, it is not uncommon for colleges to fill otherwise double RA rooms with an additional student, especially when projections do not correlate with the number of students actually attending and staying at the school. Still, concerns arose from RAs about the upcoming semester and what it meant to share their sacred space.
Discomfort arose from not being able to relocate students,“There is no room for room changes because all beds are full on campus,” said Woodland RA Nicole Taylor. “This is an issue for those roommates who need to move out for various reasons.”
Other concerns were more personal. “I expressed some concern about being assigned a random roommate, especially because I was involved in a situation where I was once placed with a random roommate who began sexually harassing me,” said J.R. Costello, a junior RA in Holt. “It was triggering for me to get this news because it brought up a lot of bad feelings from the past.”
According to Lindsay Tavarozzi, junior RA in Saunders House, the school called RAs who were being assigned roommates over the summer and
also pulled them aside during RA training to give them background on what was happening. One of her concerns was the lack of communication from Residential Life. “One moment [RAs] are only hav- ing the roommate for the first few weeks, then it changed to half the semester, now it’s most likely all semester,” she said. RAs were not the only students feeling a lack of communication.
A common issue among RAs was the lack of privacy, not only for themselves but also for the residents in their halls. “We like to have RA’s in single rooms so that they can talk to students privately,” said Dean David Hennessey.
“For me, I do not want to violate the privacy of a resident especially if they have a serious issue to present to me,” Costello said. “Even having to ask my roommate to leave so I can speak to someone or having to move to a separate location involves someone who has no business in this process.”
Master keys and confidential information were a major concern. If an RA loses or is found giving his or her master key to another student, they immediately lose their positions, lose their singles, which in this case would result in a loss of housing. A roommate elevates the likeliness of this kind of situation happening, whether it is because a roommate takes the master key or the RA hides the key due to suspicion of their roommate, which could result in its loss.
“By January, we expect to move all room- mates out of the RA rooms,” said Austin. “We are already planning for next fall, and while we believe we will be at capacity again, but without having to take measures we felt compelled to do this year.”
Moving roommates to RA rooms was not a decision the administration took lightly. Hennessey said, “We try not to trample on students lives.”
Plans for next semester and next year are in motion. It is important to stay informed about how to ensure guaranteed housing as a returning student and to stay on top of mandatory procedure. In the long run, this preparation will help students and the Office of Residential Life accommodate new, transfer, returning, and RA students.