Increase to student body raises likelihood of impacted housing
The Santa Clara
February 16, 2017
For students looking to live on campus, the number of single occupancy rooms is dwindling and the number of triples is increasing.
In the upcoming academic year, Santa Clara plans to increase the number of incoming first-year students on campus, in turn affecting the available spaces for returning students in on-campus housing.
The university’s current on-campus housing availability is being impacted by the 2020 plan, a massive expansion plan to boost university enrollment, erect new campus facilities and bolster the university’s national reputation and rankings.
“In order to maximize the space we have available for on-campus living and to meet the projected increased housing requests, the university has decided to convert Nobili (Hall) rooms with sufficient living spaces to doubles and triples, University Villas premium singles to doubles and Swig (Residence) Hall suite doubles to triples … in addition, some of the Graham Hall double rooms will be converted to triple rooms,” said Gayle Bandy, assistant director of housing communications and billing.
The priority deadline for 2017-2018 sophomore, junior and senior housing applications were due on Feb. 10. According to Bandy, the Housing Office received an anticipated increased number of applications from rising sophomores, junior and seniors requesting on-campus accommodations as compared to previous years.
Bandy said the Housing Office holds spaces for 94 percent of the incoming first-year class based on admission projections. As the first-year classes grow larger, so does the demand for on-campus housing.
Santa Clara’s current enrollment plan is to increase the undergraduate student body to 6,000 students by 2020. The total undergraduate enrollment in Fall 2015 was 5,385 students. In Fall 2016, that number had risen to 5,438 students. The university accepted 378 more students for the class of 2020 than it had the year before.
During the 2015-2016 school year, Nobili Hall was home to sophomores, juniors and seniors. But this academic year, only juniors and seniors were allowed to reside in the building.
Evangelea DiCicco is a junior currently living in Nobili Hall single, marking her second year in the residence hall. DiCicco planned to return for her senior year but during the application process, was unable to select an option to live in a Nobili single even though there were prices available on the housing website for the space.
“I’m not going to share my room again. That’s not going to happen,” DiCicco said. “I feel like housing is hurting the people who want to stay on campus and that’s not right.”
DiCicco learned that singles in Nobili are offered through disability resources. Such is the case for the University Villas, another option for upperclassman housing.
According to a student who works for the Housing Office, next year the Villas’ premium singles will accommodate two people rather than one. Only individuals registered through disability resources will be able to live in premium singles in Villas next year.
If a student living in a Villas double room wishes to go abroad during the year and still retain their housing, their roommate would hold their spot by paying the premium single rate until the student returns.
The 11-story Swig Residence Hall, a traditional first-year residential learning community, was recently converted to accommodate a larger student population. Last summer, the lounges on even-numbered floors were converted into two separate student rooms, each housing two students.
“Our hope is the occupancy changes made for the 2017-2018 academic year in Nobili Hall, University Villas and Swig will alleviate the need to use lounges,” Bandy said.
She added that lounges would be used as a temporary living space as a last resort. “In the event lounge spaces are used, students would be notified of their unique placement and our plan to move them to permanent spaces as soon as space becomes available,” she said.
But this was not the case for first-year student Erin Bullard, who was placed in a triple in Campisi Residence Hall last September. When Housing gave her the opportunity to move to a double in Swig, she took it—unaware that she would be living in a room that used to be a lounge.
“There is a large difference. Not only is our room smaller than the others, (but) we don’t have a lot of the things most rooms have,” Bullard said. “We don’t have mirrors in our rooms so we had to buy our own. We also don’t have a medicine cabinet like everyone does, we just have a shelf. On top of that, we only have one light on the ceiling, none above our sink.”
Despite living in a less-furnished space, Bullard pays the standard amount for housing in a Swig double.
“No one else should have to deal with living in a room that was originally a lounge, or with more people than the space allows for,” Bullard said. “It’s not fair.”
As part of the 2020 plan, two new residence halls will be constructed to house approximately 600 additional students. According to Bandy, the university is planning a residence hall that will house about 350 students.
“Until there are more details about the structure, timeline, et cetera, we cannot begin to plan the programmatic piece,” she said.
Contact Erin Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852. Associate reporter Kimi Andrew contributed to this report.