Over a quarter of this year’s freshman class had to get to know more than one roommate as they moved in to their new dorm room this year.
UR’s largest freshman class to date has forced Residential Life to house dozens of first year students in triples and 20 students in quadruples.
“We always formalize the class size a couple weeks into the semester once we have sorted out who is here and who is not here,” Dean of Freshmen and Senior Associate Director of the Center for Academic Support Marcy Kraus said. “But I think what we are anticipating is that we will have a freshmen class size of about 1,100, which is about 100 more students than we had targeted for this year.”
While the consequences of an unusually large freshman class extend to many areas of University life, the most notable impact is on housing. This year, 27 percent of freshmen are in “crowded housing.” Many rooms in Gilbert Hall and Hoeing Hall that normally house two students now house three and half of the lounges in Susan B. Anthony Residence Halls have been converted to quadruples.
Freshmen housed in quadruples are adapting well to living with three other people in the same room.
“It’s a huge space,” freshman and Sue B. quadruple resident Ameesh Dara said. “Just getting up in the morning is hard because everyone has different schedules but you get used to it and we get a good discount on the price, so I think it’s a good deal.”
While upperclassmen may find it difficult to imagine living with more than one other roommate, new students adapt easily to their college housing arrangements.
“Freshmen come very open minded about what the college experience is going to be like so they don’t know what to expect,” Kraus said. “I am not aware of any problems that would be different from what we experience at the start of any year.”
Students in overcrowded rooms will not receive an extra housing point like in years past, but they do receive a 20 percent discount off their room charge.
“My mom made it seem like it was going to be 20 percent worse to get 20 percent off, but it’s not too bad,” freshman and Sue B. quadruple resident Amanda Wright said.
“You have to be more respectful of everyone’s space because there are so many people, so we avoid conflicts,” freshman Annalise Kjolhede said. Kjolhede lives with Wright.
Upperclassmen are less optimistic about how freshmen will handle living with extra people in close quarters as the year progresses.
“I think that right now everyone is pretty positive, but later in the year everyone gets stressed and tensions will be higher,” junior Molly Leitch said.
In an effort to avoid such problems, planning for overcrowding has included steps like extra training in conflict resolution for Resident Advisers.
“If there is a conflict it’s more difficult to find a solution that involves moving a student to another room because we really don’t have as much flexibility as we’ve had in previous years,” Kraus said.
Administrators credit UR’s improving reputation as the reason behind such an usually large number of students accepting their offers of admission.
“This appears to be related to growing enthusiasm for our Rochester curriculum,” UR President Joel Seligman said in a written statement.
“The higher yield is a result of more students saying ‘this is my first choice, this is where I want to be,'” Kraus added.
Academic departments are also adjusting to the larger class size.
“I think the impact of the larger class is certainly going to be felt in those courses that are most common for freshmen – introductory Biology, introductory Chemistry, Calculus and CAS 105 – so we managed to accommodate as many students who want to be in Biology and Chemistry and there is actually still space in those classes,” Kraus said.
While part of Seligman’s strategic plan will likely call for an eventual expansion of the undergraduate student population, this year’s spike was not intentional.
“I am regularly briefed on admissions and I do know that a class of this size was larger than planned and was the result of an unexpected increase in the percentage of students who accepted admission to our College,” Seligman said. “I have been deeply impressed by how determined The College has been to fairly address the housing and other challenges created by this larger than anticipated class.”Bruml can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.