Loyola junior Nic Butko was planning on living on campus this fall. However, due to the university’s limited housing capacity and a prioritization of underclassmen, he wasn’t assigned a room and was instead placed on the deferred housing list to wait for a space to open.
“It was extremely frustrating to hear that I was on the waitlist,” Butko, a 20-year-old studying international business and management, said. “I was planning on going abroad in the spring so it would’ve been easier to dorm to avoid searching for a sixmonth lease at the time.”
In accordance with guidelines related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Loyola has reduced the number of available spaces for students living on campus. As a result, some residence halls have been repurposed to serve different grade levels and some upperclassmen who applied for on-campus housing were forced to look elsewhere.
Butko received a housing assignment in Baumhart Hall Aug. 1 — three weeks before move-in was scheduled to begin Aug. 22, but at that point it was too late.
“I ended up finding housing off-campus before I was assigned a dorm because I didn’t have any faith that the school was going to accommodate me,” he said.
Under the Return to Campus Guidelines, residence capacity was lowered to about half of what it would be in a non-pandemic environment — with only 4,000 students able to live on campus during the 2021-22 school year. As of Sept. 27, there are roughly 3,700 students living in on-campus housing.
In accordance with the guidelines, the university is only offering single and double occupancy rooms, whereas in past years triple and quad options have been available.
Director of Residence Life Deb Schmidt-Rogers, explained that underclassmen were given priority for housing placements as a result of the reduced capacity.
The residency requirement for sophomores was temporarily lifted, but will be put back in place next year, The Phoenix reported. First-years are still required to live on campus.
“The first thing we have to do, since we have a residency requirement, is make sure first and second-year students have a space,” Schmidt-Rogers said.
First-year students are typically assigned to San Francisco Hall, De Nobili Hall, Simpson Hall, Mertz Hall, Francis Hall and Campion Hall. This year, however, first-year students are also occupying Regis Hall and Messina Hall.
Some first-year students are also living in residence halls with access to facilities such as kitchens, which would not be the case in a school year with normal campus capacity.
“We definitely lucked out. The kitchen comes in handy on the weekends because I only have a five-day meal plan,” said Morgan Weaver, a first-year biology major, who lives in Regis Hall.
These facilities have not been available to first-years in the past. Schmidt-Rogers said research has demonstrated first-year students are most successful in residence halls with shared bedrooms and shared bathrooms.
Some upperclassmen who wanted to live in on-campus housing were unable to get a room following first-year and sophomore students receiving priority. Similar situations occurred in past school years, but the problem was exacerbated by the smaller campus capacity this year, The Phoenix reported.
Butko expressed his frustration with the whole process, saying there was very little communication from the university. During the 2020-2021 school year, housing was suspended on campus due to the COVID-19 situation, The Phoenix reported.
“I was not surprised at all that things happened the way they did,” he said. “It followed the same pattern it did last year in 2020 when the school waited till super late to cancel all on-campus housing.”
In response to student frustration, Schmidt-Rogers highlighted that Residence Life does their best to match student housing requests to the vacancies in the residence halls.
“I absolutely understand that students feel a sense of frustration,” Schmidt-Rogers said. “It’s really difficult for us to anticipate if students will cancel over the summer.”
Schmidt-Rogers told The Phoenix no students remain on the Deferred Housing List as of Sept. 30 and anyone on the list was eventually assigned rooms on campus or made arrangements elsewhere.
Residence Life didn’t answer questions about many students were placed on the deferred housing list instead of being given a dorm assignment.
For the 2022-23 school year, Loyola plans to return to their typical occupancy in the residence halls.