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Loyola Doesn’t Have Enough Dorms to House All Its Students

Courtesy of Loyola University Chicago

For the second year in a row, Loyola can’t fit a large number of its upperclassmen applicants in on-campus housing, leaving nearly 250 students who applied to live on campus looking for a place for next school year.

Of the rising junior and senior students who applied for fall housing, 248 were put on a deferred housing list — a waiting list which defers housing placement for upperclassmen students. Students have the option to stay on the list and wait to see if dorm spaces open up, or they can cancel and look for apartments off campus.

Jennifer O’Brien, associate director of housing operations, said this is the second year in a row Loyola has had to use a deferred housing list. As of March 26, there were 237 students on the deferred housing list.

Last year, 302 students were placed on the deferred list, and 184 students decided to stay on it. Of those, 161 got a place to live on campus due to other students cancelling.

In mid-February, rising sophomores, juniors and seniors began the housing application process for the 2018-19 academic year. First-year students and sophomores are required by the university to live on campus, and space for rising juniors and seniors has been limited as a result of the size of the rising sophomore class.

According to O’Brien, the university calculated it was able to house nearly 300 juniors and seniors for the 2018-19 academic year. However, more than 550 applied.

Based on the housing applications received, Residence Life randomly generates lottery numbers and the first 300 numbers for juniors and seniors were able to choose a residence hall. The rest of the students receive a notice they would be placed on the deferred housing list due to a high demand for rooms.

In the past two years, Loyola’s student population has grown significantly with the classes of 2020 and 2021 being the largest first-year populations Loyola has ever seen. Because of the size of these two classes, there are fewer available housing spaces for rising juniors and seniors, according to O’Brien.

In order to accommodate this overpopulation of first-year students, the university began converting double rooms to triples in first-year San Francisco Residence Hall, Mertz Residence Hall and De Nobili Residence Hall in 2016.

The university also began housing first-year students on two floors of Regis Residence Hall, a dorm that historically has primarily served upperclassmen.

Last fall, The Phoenix reported nearly 22 percent of first-year students living on campus lived in converted triples. About 168 rooms designed to house two people housed three, totaling about 500 first-year students living in converted triples.

Due to limited living space in 2016, upperclassmen and transfer students were placed in the Sovereign Apartments (1040 W. Granville Ave.), a property owned by the university through its real estate company, Lakeside Management, The Phoenix reported.

“Some students don’t feel comfortable waiting [for a place to open up], and we do offer additional resources,” O’Brien said. “Our partnership with Lakeside Management is a great resource for housing in the neighborhood, should students not want to remain on the deferred list.”

Josh Shaffer, a sophomore communication studies major, said he was one of the students placed on the deferred housing list. Shaffer said he wanted to live on campus so he could be included in the social aspects of campus life. Shaffer said being placed on the deferred list jeopardized his plans to room with a rising sophomore next year.

“I was a bit surprised, but more than anything I was just irritated,” Shaffer said. “I had plans with rooming with a rising sophomore, and me being placed on the deferred list messes up both mine and his plans. Not being able to know if I’ll get housing is the most stressful part. I planned ahead, but I felt like Residence Life just kinda gave me a shrug and said ‘We don’t know yet.’”

Shaffer said that he’s decided to stay on the list, but has not been offered anything yet. He said Residence Life has reached out to him over email with resources to help find off-campus housing.

Andy McDonnell, a sophomore communication studies major, was also placed on the list. McDonnell said he wanted to live in university housing because the residence halls are close to campus. He said being placed on the list was unexpected.

“It definitely was surprise,” McDonnell said. “I was definitely mad when it happened. I thought for sure I would at least get a lottery number.”

McDonnell said he’s decided to stay on the list in hopes he will eventually be placed in a residence hall on campus. However, he is looking at apartments around campus as a backup plan.

O’Brien said students cancel throughout the spring and summer semester due to changes of plans, enabling Residence Life to place students from the deferred list in university housing.

O’Brien said the university has discussed how to better serve students in the future who want to live on campus.

“There has definitely been discussion about what we can do to accommodate more students on campus,” O’Brien said. “Residence Life last year conducted a housing demand study with the Scion group to help us have a sense of a plan for the next 10 years — what [we] need to do with our buildings, where [we] need to make improvements, where [we] maybe need to consider future construction.”

O’Brien said no decisions have been made, but there is discussion on potential residence life improvements in the future.

This summer, Simpson Residence Hall will undergo renovations including new furniture in dorm rooms and lounges, new flooring, renovated bathrooms, new plumbing, updated mechanical systems and new landscaping, but it won’t have any new rooms, according to O’Brien.

“We have had those conversations, there has not been a final approved decision that can be shared publicly,” O’Brien said. “There are certainly conversations happening, and I would anticipate that some news would be forthcoming on that subject.”

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