Final housing numbers show many empty beds

Michelle Ma

After weeks of communicating with students, housing officials announced Monday that on-campus housing is filled only to 94 percent of capacity.

Undergraduate housing buildings — including residential colleges and residence halls — are down from the typical 99 or 100 percent occupancy, said Mark D’Arienzo, associate director of university housing and food service.

The final occupancy numbers were solidified this week after an initial waiting period, as housing administrators contacted students to find the cause of their absences.

During that period, students weren’t allowed to make housing changes, but D’Arienzo said the fall housing freeze probably will end this week.

An “across-the-board” 94 percent occupancy rate for undergraduate housing is the result of a combination of factors, D’Arienzo said. A number of students are studying abroad this quarter, including students who extended summer internships into the fall, he said.

“We are expecting a number of (these) students to apply by mid-November for winter housing,” he said.

Also, Lindgren Hall was returned to undergraduate housing in the middle of last year, allowing nearly 40 extra beds for undergraduate use, D’Arienzo said. Previously, Lindgren was used solely for graduate housing.

Freshmen who didn’t move into residential buildings by the evening of Sept. 14 were contacted by the university to confirm their intentions to attend Northwestern, D’Arienzo said.

“During the last few weeks we have tried to ascertain where students are,” D’Arienzo said. “Some students transferred and some had visa problems.”

University officials talked with freshmen or someone in their household before canceling their spot in the class, D’Arienzo said.

“We like to give students the benefit of the doubt,” he added.

With freshmen and upperclassmen fall enrollment confirmed, the residential building freeze period — typically lasting four to six weeks after the start of the quarter — probably will be lifted by the end of this week, D’Arienzo said.

This week will be the fourth week since the beginning of the quarter, a typical time to lift the freeze, D’Arienzo said. Residential building staff will be notified when the freeze has been lifted.

“This is what we shoot for,” D’Arienzo said. “The Residential Life staff did a phenomenal job identifying vacancies (in their residences).”

Public Affairs Residential College is waiting for the housing freeze to be lifted, said President Matt Yalowitz, a Weinberg sophomore. The residential college, which has between 20 and 25 open beds, first will offer housing to PARC non-residents, he said.

After non-residents are placed, the PARC executive board will interview freshmen and students who lived in the building last year who express interest in living in PARC this year, Yalowitz said.

On average, residential colleges have more empty beds than residential halls, D’Arienzo said. This is not unusual, he said, but given the range of different residential colleges, it is hard to generalize why they have fewer occupants.

“Each entering class has its own personality,” D’Arienzo said. “Given that so many choices (are available), students may or may not be inclined to live in residential colleges.”

Residential colleges are experiencing a higher sophomore return this year, which is a positive change, D’Arienzo said, because upperclassmen leadership is an important part of the residential college experience.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]

 Campus at just 94 percent occupancy; residential colleges to open extra spots