More dorm rooms are empty for fall

Michelle Ma

Beds are missing students across campus this fall, with dorm occupancy numbers down 2 to 3 percent.

At the beginning of each school year, campus housing is usually 100 or 99 percent filled, said Mark D’Arienzo, associate director of University Housing and Food Service. This year campus housing is starting out as 97 to 98 percent filled.

“We never know (how many freshmen) we’re getting, but it was a surprise this year,” said Hobart House President Bethany Weinert, a Weinberg junior. “We have three empty doubles.”

D’Arienzo said the low housing figures are affecting housing units across the Evanston Campus.

But several on-campus students said the residential colleges were hit hardest.

Public Affairs Residential College has between 20 and 25 beds still available right now, said President Matt Yalowitz, a Weinberg sophomore.

Though beds have been empty at the beginning of the year before, the numbers don’t compare to this year.

PARC has non-residents who participate in dorm events who may move in later, Yalowitz said.

Representatives from residential colleges said they are noticing the higher number of empty rooms this year, especially among rooms designated for freshmen.

“Normally (Hobart) has 20 or more freshmen, but this year there’s only 16,” said Weinert, president of Hobart, the women’s residential college. “It is noticeable.”

D’Arienzo attributed some of the vacancies to potential students “playing the waiting game” and deciding to attend another university after reserving a class seat and housing with deposits at NU.

Students may decide to attend another university because of a better financial aid offer, he said, which makes it appear that campus housing is low in occupancy.

But this not unique to NU, D’Arienzo said, who added that other universities nationwide are experiencing vacancies.

Although freshmen have arrived on campus, upperclassmen are still moving in or deciding to leave NU. Family emergencies and international visa problems can also delay student move-in.

With so many types of beginning-of-the-year shuffling, it’s not unusual for residence halls and residential colleges to look a little empty, D’Arienzo said.

“The university is hoping students will show,” D’Arienzo said. “They are still trying to track down students.”

Within the next week, it should be clearer as to what percentage of on-campus housing is still unoccupied.

Weinert speculated that the decrease in freshmen among some residential colleges might be a result of the new, all-freshman quad, which includes Elder Hall, 600 Lincoln and Hinman House.

With this option for all-freshman housing on North Campus, which is expanded from last year, freshmen may have chosen to live there instead of in residential colleges this year.

Residential colleges are distinguished from other housing on campus because they are areas where students with similar interests live together and participate in more focused events in their buildings, Weinert said.

The six empty beds in Chapin Hall would usually be occupied by freshmen, said Vice President Cait Ruegger, a Communication sophomore.

But some residential colleges have empty rooms that were reserved for sophomores. Jones Residential College has six or seven male beds that were never assigned last spring, said Vice President Andrea Brown, a Music sophomore.

“There was a higher amount of freshmen coming in this year, but more returning students decided not to come back,” Brown explained.

Jones usually has some vacant beds, but never this many, Brown said.

Some residence halls also have more empty beds than last year. But all the freshmen rooms are filled in Allison Hall, said Resident Assistant Ryan Vukelich, a McCormick ’04 graduate. Sargent Hall Vice President Steven Ehlert, a Weinberg sophomore, said he only knows of two empty beds.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]