With larger year-to-year classes, on-campus housing for sophomores and upperclassmen are becoming a greater issue than ever.
Not only are more upperclassmen choosing to stay at Belmont, but more also want to stay on campus. This need for rooms, up to 40 percent from 35 percent in previous years, stretched the office of Residence Life to an unexpected point last year, director of residence life Anthony Donovan said.
“It was overwhelming, quite frankly,” he said.
Donavan thought the existing dorms and apartments for upperclassmen were going as to be as full as they ever had been. But a portion of Bruin Hills was demolished last spring to make way for new residences and another parking garage. That left fewer beds for upperclassmen than in 2010-11.
Despite the rising demand for upperclassman on-campus housing, the priority of residence life is to house the freshmen and sophomores they have guaranteed a spot for on-campus.
“Where we are, that is very close to where we need to be. We try to house all the people we’re required to house,” Donovan said.
While no plans are now officially set, he has some ideas about what could help alleviate the growing need for housing for upperclassmen.
“We have a number of things,” he said. “You could find incentives to encourage upperclassmen to move off campus. The university could be a little more lenient on their exemption policy.”
In an attempt to more efficiently handle upperclassmen housing, this year’s housing draw will take place the week of April 16, which Donovan hopes will allow students to have a more definite sense of their living situation for the fall.
These steps, however, will not be the last steps to fix housing for upperclassmen.
Despite the “pretty much unheard of” boom in residence hall construction – seven residence halls will have been built since 2003 after the two phases of Bruin Hills construction – the university will still have to compensate for further growth.
“We build just enough to get us to the next phase sometimes. When you have that, you are never ahead very long,” Donovan said.
The new Bruin Hills residence hall will house 298 students in four- or five-bedroom apartments this fall. An adjacent building with 195 beds will also be built after the new residence hall is completed.
The two Bruin Hills phases are all that the university has announced for new upperclassman housing, but Donovan said there will be greater housing need in the future.
“We’ll probably build at a higher density than we have before,” he said.