Incoming freshmen will soon enjoy a unique experience: living with two roommates in rooms once designed for only two students. Because the freshman class is more than 450 students larger than last year’s – the largest jump in at least a decade by more than 100 students – administrators have begun converting 120 double rooms in the Hall on Virginia Avenue and Thurston Hall to triples.
While this measure is necessary because of this year’s unprecedented positive response to GW’s offers of admission, squeezing as many students as possible into relatively small rooms should not become a permanent solution to GW’s perennial housing crunch. Administrators should fix the admissions process and stop the yearly enrollment increases that strain campus resources.
This year, GW admitted 49 percent of more than 16,000 applicants. Of those admitted, 35 percent – six percent more than last year – decided to come to GW, blindsiding administrators and sending the University scrambling for beds to house the excess freshmen. With 450 more new students than expected, already full residence halls and nearly 150 returning students still on housing wait lists, administrators had only two options. Either GW could acquire more housing space in an impossibly short period of time or the University could squeeze more students into already crowded facilities.
From all appearances, GW seems to be doing both. The University has leased 102 of 126 apartments in the Pennsylvania House to accommodate upperclassmen. These additional beds are intended to open less posh campus rooms for freshmen and trim the long wait list for returning students. GW also has plans to lease rooms from at least one other building.
Even with the new apartments for upperclassmen, adding extra beds in small rooms will bring additional difficulties to GW’s freshman residence halls, stressing Community Facilitators who are already quitting their demanding jobs at high rates. Ultimately, the level of service GW provides its students cannot possibly be maintained if the number of students increases while the capacity to provide that service remains constant.
This situation may be necessary for a year, but it cannot continue beyond next spring. The system must be remedied. The number of students cannot go up any longer. The extra beds should come out by May.