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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

QU moves dozens of students out of overflow housing, starts second week with eight freshmen still in lounges

After a surge in freshman enrollment forced Quinnipiac University officials to use repurposed study lounges as dorms for the first time in four years, just over a half-dozen first-year students remained in overflow housing on the Mount Carmel Campus on Tuesday.

The university’s freshman housing shortage first made headlines in mid-August after the university placed nearly 60 first-year students in converted study lounges.

University officials had already reassigned about one-third of these students to conventional dorm rooms prior to freshman move-in, and the number of students assigned to overflow housing dipped to 22 by the first day of classes on Aug. 28.

John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, said eight students were still living in converted lounges as of Sept. 5.

Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett said on Aug. 28 that the majority of the students still assigned to repurposed lounges on the first day of classes were living in the Commons and the Ledges residence halls, with just a handful remaining in a single common room in Dana English Hall.

Ellett, describing the first-year housing situation as “fluid,” said it was impossible to determine how many students would remain in overflow housing for the foreseeable future.

Tyler Chen, a first-year finance major, expected to live in a communal lounge in the Commons residence hall until the Office of Housing reassigned him. 

Prior to move-in, Chen was conflicted about his housing situation. On one hand, he said the converted lounge furnished to house as many as eight students made him “feel like a zoo animal.” 

But by Aug. 19, university officials — who had warned him that his housing assignment may change — had already moved a handful of his original roommates out of their common room accommodation.

“My two other roommates got moved,” he said at the time. “So, there’s a chance that I’ll probably get moved.”

And although he later received a traditional housing assignment, Chen said he was in some ways open to the idea of having more living space.

“I actually don’t mind,” Chen said. “Every freshman wants a big room.”

Although the university has yet to release the exact number of first-year students, an Aug. 25 article published by Quinnipiac Today described a freshman class of more than 1,800 students. Of these students, an estimated 1,700 are residential.

By comparison, Quinnipiac enrolled just over 1,600 total freshmen in the fall of 2022.

Fully occupied, the nine first-year residence halls on Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel Campus are only equipped to accommodate around 2,000 residents.

However, not all of the available rooms in these buildings are designated as first-year housing — some of these buildings house both freshmen and sophomores.

So, this class size figure — albeit approximate and preliminary — in many ways contextualizes the university’s housing issues.

“Twenty-two on the first day of classes is actually pretty small when you think about how to do predictive analysis for an entering class,” Ellett said of the number of students still living in overflow housing on Aug. 28. “I think 22 is pretty darn spot on for us, to be honest.”

And the root cause of the housing shortage — an approximately 12% increase in freshman enrollment — bolsters Quinnipiac’s case for its $293 million South Quad project, which is slated to include a 417-bed first-year residence hall.

Upon recognizing the size of the incoming class, Ellett said university officials in May offered incoming freshmen the option to voluntarily live in quad-style rooms in exchange for a $1,000 housing discount.

Then, in early August, university officials sent dozens of students who not completed certain tasks — signing a housing contract, or submitting immunization records, for example — a reminder to do so, or risk being reassigned to a lounge.

“After a week, we waited and people still didn’t do those things,” Ellett said. “We selected a segment of that group to put in the lounges.”

Ellett said university administrators tried to prioritize communication and fairness but emphasized the university’s willingness to reevaluate the process.

“They had a process that tried to be fair and equitable, rather than, ‘Hey, these are kids who didn’t register,’” Ellett said. “Again, I’m happy to review our process with student government if they think there’s a better way.”

The students who university officials involuntarily assigned to lounges, Ellett said, will also receive a $1,000 housing discount.

But is Quinnipiac’s imperfect housing situation really so unusual? Ellett argued it is not.

“I have been in housing 38 years,” he said. “This has happened probably 16 times in 38 years.”

Ellett noted that first-year housing shortages are not even particularly unusual at Quinnipiac.

“I want to say it’s happened at least four to five times in the last 25 years,” he said, adding that housing shortages forced the university to use lounges as freshman dorms as recently as 2019.

Former students who lived on campus in the mid- to late-2010s — the last time Quinnipiac experienced similar housing issues — remember how the lack of sufficient on-campus housing impacted freshmen.

Although Quinnipiac graduate Sean Raggio did not live in the “forced triple” he said university officials assigned to the Irmagarde Tator Hall study lounge on his floor his freshman year, he said the lack of a communal work space in his dorm building often left him without a place to study beyond the Arnold Bernhard Library.

“We didn’t have a dorm common room my freshman year, which kind of isolated my half of Irma from the other half,” said Raggio, who graduated from Quinnipiac in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree  in journalism. 

But while the university has implemented similar measures in the past, this year’s first-year housing shortage marks a stark departure from the pandemic-era housing model Quinnipiac utilized as recently as last year.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university assigned just two students to quad-style dorms designed and furnished to accommodate four students.

Ellett acknowledged that the imperfect housing situation was a “double-edged sword” but stood by Quinnipiac’s decision to keep all students in campus housing.

“Again, when you think of the number of students, you’re talking about 1% of the freshman class,” Ellett said. “Can you imagine if we sent them to a hotel? I can’t imagine that would be a very warm and welcoming experience for the students.”

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