‘Housing crunch’ causes concern for campus dorm retention
The largest enrollment in decades has put the already limited on-campus housing under even more strain.
In response, the University is getting tougher on students who have not reconciled their Bursar account holds by the time registration closes on Dec. 2.
Housing and Residence Life (HRL) said failure to successfully register will result in a forfeiture of on-campus housing for the spring 2016 semester.
Additionally, students are questioning the tradition of basketball players having the opportunity to get single rooms in double suites on campus while 90 housing waitlisted students were required to live at Talbott Apartments at Rutgers Newark campus.
Tara Hart, director of Housing and Residence Life, said there were only about 50 open spots for wait-listed students in time for the fall 2015 semester following spring 2015 room selection. Compared to previous years, HRL typically sees 150 cancellations each summer from students who previously went through the room selection process in the spring.
Due to the unexpected decrease of open beds becoming available for students, 150 from previous years to 50 this year, questioning and changing the tradition of basketball athletes getting single rooms in a typically double-suite Xavier Hall was not taken into consideration for this academic year, Hart said. Basketball athletes are able to get single rooms when the number of teammates allows it to be possible and especially when athletes choose to live off-campus.
Xavier Hall Resident Assistant Drew Cameron said this year there are “very few” male senior basketball players and the few who are on the team have chosen to live at Turrell or find a place of their own. “Therefore, 10 rooms (in Xavier Hall) are enough for everyone to have their own rooms this year,” Cameron said.
These 10 rooms are identical to all other double suites in Xavier Hall, said Cameron, the only difference is that Seton Hall Athletics provides longer bed frames and mattresses to accommodate the athletes.
Male and female basketball athlete room and board is covered by athletic scholarships. “This has to do essentially with players’ welfare… to make sure we are meeting the needs of student athletes in accordance with NCAA compliance,” Hart said.
Regarding to limited campus housing, Seton Hall Athletics released the statement, “It has been a common practice for the Athletics Department to work collaboratively with the Department of Housing and Residence Life to accommodate the needs of each of our student-athletes. In light of the recent University housing crunch, Athletics will continue to work with Housing and Residence Life on finding suitable options for our student-athletes.”
Conversations regarding this benefit basketball athletes get and limited campus housing other students is an ongoing one for future semesters, Hart said. “I don’t anticipate that the demand for housing is going to diminish.”
Limited campus housing and a packed waitlist led to Seton Hall students, both freshmen and upperclassmen, having assigned rooms in Talbott Apartments at Rutgers University Newark campus.
During students’ experiences at Talbott Apartments, HRL provides five Residential Programming Assistants as a resource to run programs and offer on-site tutoring and opportunities.
Upperclassmen and freshmen who were placed at the off-campus apartments can access their waitlist number on their housing profiles in the SHU Portal. These students will be notified once free housing spots becoming available throughout the spring 2016 semester.
HRL has paired resident assistants and Tutors In Residence (TIRs) as roommates in campus housing in an attempt to free more space for Talbott Apartment students to transfer into SHU residence halls. In the past, it was tradition for resident assistants to live in singles on campus.
Due to increased limited on-campus housing, HRL is strongly enforcing the established policy of room assignment forfeiture after students fail to pay financial holds and register for spring semester, Hart said.
Grant Smith, junior nursing major, received his housing assignment in Talbott Apartments for his third year at Seton Hall and is awaiting his turn to move back onto campus.
“My initial reaction was actually pretty happy because it wasn’t clear if I had housing and due to living in Nevada, that would be just a bit of an issue considering the commute,” Smith said.
Smith adds that living at Talbott has been “the perfect combination of good and bad moments.” He said he has enjoyed the perks of a single room and a kitchen in his apartment but he has had to deal with the disadvantage of the commute to and from SHU campus.
“My complaints rest with administration, pouring endless money into useless construction that nobody cares about while grossly mismanaging necessities. HRL. is simply working with what they were given and they’ve done a great job with it,” Smith said. “We need to focus on housing, schooling, and taking care of students; not fancy buildings.”
Tracy Gottlieb, vice president of Student Services said in an email, “Last year we had empty space and did not anticipate that the demand for on-campus housing would be so great.”
This demand for on-campus housing is a result of not only an increased number of freshman students enrolled at the University but also, students are coming to Seton Hall from farther geographic locations.
Hart reports about four out of 10 students come from geographic locations outside of New Jersey.
“Going forward, we will plan accordingly so that returning students know when they leave campus in the spring whether they have housing,” Gottlieb said.
Leah Carton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.