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RC Housing Can Have Challenges

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John Stang – News Editor

Thousands of Roanoke College students descended upon the campus on Aug. 28- 30 for the start of the 2010-2011 academic year and moved into their selected residence halls. As with most years, housing posed a challenge to the Residence Life staff, the residence advisors living on the floors, and the new students moving into the residence halls. This year there were some spacing problems that arose due to the ever-expanding number of students intending to live on campus at RC.

“We had to be very creative with housing,” said Teresa Blethyn, director of Residence Life Student Affairs..

Currently, RC has 1,399 students living on campus which is about 70% of the college population. RC hopes to increase the number to 75% and build some more residence halls for accommodation. According to Blethyn, the college reached 101% occupancy at the beginning of the semester. Currently the occupancy is 100%.

Reaching over 100% occupancy tends to happen because the college places more students in residence halls than maximum capacity. Usually, the number of students will reduce during the summer and fall months because students decide not to attend RC, students go abroad, or students fail too many courses.

“We overbook like the airlines knowing they won’t get all the passengers,” Blethyn said.

The residence halls with the biggest problems of too many residents have been freshmen halls like Crawford, Smith, and Bartlett. Marion is the only residence hall housing freshmen that has not experienced overcrowding problems. To accommodate more students, the college turned an old staff office in Bartlett into two triple rooms. Catawba, which houses mostly international students, has a triple and a lounge area as a room that is used for the purpose of not enough space for residents. Additionally, Crawford has nine rooms with a higher standard number and Bowman has two rooms. Market Street also has some overflow, but it does not seem to be an issue to most of the RAs.

“The way the building is designed is more of the problem,” said Jessica Aminto ’13 an RA on the first floor of Tabor, “overall, I think you will have people that are unhappy, but for the most part people are happy with the arrangements.”

Getting familiar with how a room is laid out can present a challenge for some of the students moving into campus dorms. Another problem with the college move-in experience is roommate cooperation, learning how to build community in a residence hall, and the integration of upper and lower classmen in mixed buildings. Overall, the integration process seems to be going smoothly.

“The upper class and freshmen mixture seems to be working out fine on my hall; there haven’t been any conflicts in that area either,” said Kelli Bush ’13, second floor RA in Blueridge.

Even though the college is expanding in size, Residence Life sees it as a good situation for the college because it brings in revenue, helps build a community, shows a good retention rate, and helps RC achieve its goal of getting to the Top 100 colleges in America.

“Because we are so full speaks very highly of Roanoke College. This is a good situation to be in,” Blethyn said.