Overflow: Students living in study lounges

By on September 8, 2008

By Kara Augustine

A week after arriving at the University of Louisville, freshmen Britney Bent and Jessica Buckner packed up their belongings to prepare for a move to West Hall. Bent’s pillows and neatly folded blankets were laid on a bare navy blue mattress. Buckner’s plastics totes towered in the corner of their room. While others were getting adjusted to their dorm rooms, Bent and Buckner were living in the third floor study lounge of Threlkeld Hall.
?”[The room’s] awesome,” Bent said. “It’s three times as big as any other room on the floor. I love it. And, it’s in such a great location, so I’m going to be sad to leave.”
With about 1,600 freshmen living on campus this semester, vacancies exist, but the women’s rooms are all occupied leaving the university to find new housing methods.
“Freshmen are choosing to live on campus, and that’s a good thing, said Tom Jackson, vice president of student affairs at U of L. “However, this makes the difficulty in finding rooms incredibly higher.”
According to Shannon Staten, director of housing and resident life at U of L, the alternative would have been to tell the potential female residents that no spaces were available, which would have forced them to commute to campus or find somewhere off campus to live.
“We were able to take care of most students who would have had over an hour commute to get to campus by using the lounges,” said Staten.
The lounges in Threlkeld Hall are being used as temporary living spaces due to the size and accommodations of the rooms. Three residents are placed in each lounge and each has keys to the doors, which can be locked to ensure their safety. Staten said that this will allow students to still live on campus until more permanent spaces become available. 
The lounge is equipped with two tables, three beds, a floor length mirror and a microwave. However, closets, internet, phone and cable are some things missing. Also, all of the power outlets are on one side of the room. To make up for these absences, the women have hung their clothes from the pipes and taken full advantage of surge protectors and extension cords.?
“We didn’t have access to the Internet. That was the only downfall,” Bent said.
To try and prevent this from happening again, U of L is planning to build more off-campus housing for upperclassmen. Because of their nearby location, the new buildings will be considered campus housing and when the upperclassman move, more openings for freshmen will exist.
One new housing complex, The Province, is currently being constructed on the northwest side of campus behind Bettie Johnson. Next year will also usher in the Phenix and Stoddard Johnson Halls. Phenix will be off-campus and Stoddard Johnson will be in the place of the old elementary school on Eastern Parkway.
“By 2012, our goal is to have 4,800 campus beds which would mean 28 percent of fully enrolled students would be able to live in campus housing,” Staten said.
With new housing in the works, Bent and Buckner have had to adjust to their situation. They have bonded as roommates. After only knowing one another for a week, they seem to be long time friends.
“I think this was pretty much the only alternative, but I like it. It’s kind of hard because they are like, ‘Hey, we have this awesome location, this awesome space for you, but now you are moving,'” Bent said. “The biggest adjustment is going to be having a new roommate.”
– Reporter Ben Gierhart
contributed to this story

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