Like concert attendees on bleachers being asked to slide a little closer together to accommodate the crowd, University of Nebraska at Kearney students living on campus are being asked to live two, and in some cases three, to a room this year.
“There are no single room options available this fall,” said Dr. Tony Earls, UNK director of Residence Life and associate dean for the Division of Student Affairs. “Single rooms were removed from our offering, which means that everyone gets a roommate.”
On-campus housing is at a premium this fall while Centennial Towers West (CTW) is closed for refurbishing as part of a seven-year, $18.5 million capital renewal program for UNK residence halls. Next fall, Centennial Towers East (CTE) will be closed. Each hall has nearly a 400-bed capacity.
This week, students living in Martin Hall, and some living on the second and fourth floors of Mantor Hall, are being notified that their rooms have been selected to become three-person rooms, as the need arises.
“The Office of Residence Life has already begun to assign three students to a room in Martin Hall,” Dr. Earls said. “The rooms in Martin Hall are slightly larger than other rooms in our mix.” Martin Hall, which has 57rooms, has been prepared to take an overflow of 35 female and 23 male students.
“We are using student profiles to get the best roommate match possible,” he said, adding that the third person in the room will be the first to move out as new openings are available in other halls, which could be as soon as a couple of days or as long as a number of weeks. Housing assignments are made on a first-come, first-served basis.
Some of the overflow will ease as Residence Life staff are able to identify student no-shows and move students into those vacancies. In the interim, no students will be sleeping in lounges. In the interest of fairness, students who are assigned to an overflow situation will have their room fees prorated for the time they share a room with more than one roommate.
“We are not putting students in lounge areas, because we want to leave those spaces open for common use,” Dr. Earls said. “Even resident assistants, who have their own room as part of the residence life staff, may be assigned a roommate as a way to help ease the temporary crowding.”
Overflow students now being assigned to rooms in Martin and Mantor Halls are those who applied for on-campus housing after mid-June. Residence Life staff estimate 90-100 students may yet need placement in the residence halls.
“It is hard to say how many students will still need space in the residence halls,” he said. “It’s a moving target.
We are still getting applications on a daily basis. The majority, but not all, are international students.”
International students are often late applicants, because of the time it takes to secure visas and complete other paperwork.
“We know there will be issues,” Dr. Earls said, “and we have prepared for them.” Professional staff has had four days of conflict mediation training. Resident assistants, who are student staff members in the residence halls, will also be given conflict mediation training as part of their orientation.
Knowing that CTW would be off-line this fall, Residence Life staff began preparations early last year. Fraternity and sorority communities living in University Residence North and University Residence South were asked to maximize their usage of rooms.
“Greek student leadership adjusted their recruitment endeavor and became part of the solution,” Dr. Earls said. “They really stepped up to the plate and did their part.”
Some students returning to live on campus have opted to live at University Heights, which is an apartment-style complex. Students have to be 21, married or a parent to qualify for housing in University Heights.
In all, an estimated 2,000 students will live in on-campus housing this fall, which includes seven traditional residence halls, two suite-style residence halls and an apartment-style family housing complex.
“I feel confident that students will welcome one another and understand the need for flexibility in the coming weeks,” Dr. Earls concluded.