GRC renovations will displace more than 1,000 students

IMG_5567Fadel Allassan
Print News Editor

Junior Lorin Simpson said she had to scramble to find a roof to put over her head next year; her roommate, junior Jasmyn Howard, said she’s in a similar situation.

Both students have been living in on-campus residence halls since their freshman year, but were denied the chance to do so next year after not having the opportunity to enter the housing lottery before spaces were filled.

Simpson and Howard said that they know plenty of students who are facing similar circumstances — and it’s possible many students are since the university decreased the number of available on-campus beds by about 1,000.

“The reality is despite our desire, and we are continuing to build more spaces, is that we won’t be able to provide for everybody who wants to live on campus,” said Reuben Rodriguez, associate vice provost and dean of student affairs.

According to Kevin Wade, Senior Associate Director of Administrative Services, the upcoming renovations of Gladding Residence Centers I and II and the shutdown of the Low Rise dorms on the Medical Campus caused a shortage of on-campus housing opportunities for next year and student demand for on-campus living space could not be met.

According to Wade, VCU currently has about 6,200 on-campus beds. Next year, there will be about 5,100.

Wade said about 1,100 students currently living in residence halls this year were told they would not able to guarantee a stay in their space next year because the application to stay in the same room was not made available this year. Students who wished to complete that application could not do so and had to enter the housing lottery along with everyone else.

Howard said students received an email at 1 p.m. on March 16 saying that the residence halls were at capacity and application for room selection would no longer be available. For rising juniors and seniors, however, the application had been scheduled to begin the following day.

Simpson said that although students were made aware of a potential a shortage of space in residence halls, she feels that ResLife didn’t do enough to warn and prepare students for the shortage.

Wade said in anticipation of the shortage, Residential Life and Housing made the lottery available only to students who lived on-campus in the current academic year.

In the lottery, about 3,000 upperclass students applied to live in on-campus housing and more than 1,400 were turned down — twice as many as last year, according to Wade’s estimate.

Rodriguez said that the university sent several emails throughout the year and instructed Resident Assistants to tell their pupils that the university would face a shortage next year.

Simpson, however, said she felt many students she knew did not comprehend that there would be significantly fewer spaces next year and that the same room sign-up would no longer be available.

“I think the most displeasing part of this was definitely how the message was relayed, they did send us emails and let us know, but if you didn’t read the entire emails it wasn’t clear,” Simpson said. “The emails talked about how happy they are to have us back and then all the way at the bottom they said “by the way, you can’t do same room sign-ups.”

Executive Director of Residential Life and Housing Curtis Erwin said his department typically reserves residence space for about 80 percent of the incoming freshman class, ResLife planned to keep that percentage consistent despite the fewer amount of beds available to all students.

“Research shows that of all four classes the freshman year is the most important as far as being able to become acclimated to VCU meeting people at the right time,” Erwin said. “So we try to hold enough beds for freshman so they can get acclimated to VCU,”

To keep the number of freshmen in residence halls consistent next year ResLife plans to reorganize which residence halls are reserved as freshmen and which are reserved for upperclassmen.

Cary & Belvidere, which is currently exclusive to upperclassmen, will join Brandt, Rhoads, Cabiness and Johnson halls as freshman-exclusive housing.

GRC III, which is currently a hybrid of freshman and upperclassman housing will become exclusive to upperclassmen. West Grace South, Ackell and Grace & Broad, which are currently exclusive to upperclassmen, will have a hybrid of freshmen and upperclassmen.

In the long term, Rodriguez said the renovations of GRC are intended to increase the capacity of the residence hall to accommodate all freshmen into the Monroe Park Campus.

The university’s plan is for Cabaniss to be upperclassman and graduate-student exclusive housing, while the Low Rises, which currently serve that purpose, are demolished and replaced with a $60 million building that will consolidate the 11 Allied Health Professions programs into one building.

Print News Editor, Fadel Allassan

Fadel Allassan, photo by Brooke MarshFadel is a sophomore print journalism major. He is fluent in English, French and Sarcasm, and he probably doesn’t like you. Fadel enjoys writing about politics and making people drive him to Cook-Out. // Facebook | LinkedIn

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