The Collegian
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Large senior class causes housing problems

In 2009, the University of Richmond admissions staff received an unprecedented number of acceptances from rising college freshmen, resulting in the university's largest class, with 950 students, and a shortage of on-campus housing.

The class of 2013 is primarily women, with approximately 150 more women than men, according to admissions office reports. Last year, these additional women forced some juniors returning from abroad to live off campus, because of the shortage of available rooms. Some women were housed in residence hall lounges or in the two houses on Bostwick Lane, by the university entrance.

This year, these rising seniors are creating shortages for underclassmen. Housing assignments for the University Forest Apartments were distributed by email Wednesday, March 21, and many rising juniors were disappointed to discover that they had not received a room in UFA, Carolyn Bigler, assistant director of undergraduate housing, said. Many students claimed that the apartments, without accounting for the difference in numbers, had been divided equally between men and women, and thus, a higher percentage of men had been given UFA assignments than women.

The apartments were not divided 50/50, Bigler said, because the room assignments are based on total enrollment. This year, 83 apartments were designated for women, and 62 apartments were designated for men, she said.

"We try to keep the apartments as equal as possible; there are not enough for both classes, but enough for seniors," Joan Lachowski, director of undergraduate housing, said.

This year, all 4-senior groups for both men and women who participated in UFA selection received apartment assignments, Bigler and Lachowski said.

A total of 24 female groups, or 96 women, did not receive a UFA assignment, according to housing records. Fifteen of these groups comprised four juniors, five of them comprised one senior and three juniors, and four of them comprised two seniors and two juniors.

For men, eight groups, or 32 men, did not receive assignments. One group consisted of two seniors and two juniors, and the other seven groups consisted of all juniors.

"It's a trend," Lachowski said. "We do the best we can with what we have to be as fair as possible. I think the apartments were really fairly distributed, and we are firm in what we do."

Living and Learning and Sophomore Scholars in Residence programs in Keller Hall, Freeman Hall and Lakeview Hall also restrict the number of rooms that can be assigned to women or men, the directors said. The programs do not require that the students be half men and half women, Lachowski said, so a hall may have more women than men because of the make-up of the program. Bigler and Lachowski said they tried to assign the rest of the rooms in a hall with a program so that the number of men and women became nearly equal.

There are approximately 155 students in hall programs each year, Lachowski said.

Gray Court, which was originally a male residence hall but is now coed, is generally divided equally among men and women, the directors said. Lachowski said adding women to Gray Court had helped them provide housing for more women.

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Aside from the number of men and women in programs, sophomore Amalia Kobelja said she was unhappy with the location of the programs. She said she could not fit a Living and Learning program into her schedule, but wanted to live in one of the two nicest dorms, Lakeview and Freeman.

Bigler said the housing office staff did not make decisions about which halls held programs. Lakeview Hall was funded as part of the Richmond Promise for the specific purpose of housing a program, Bigler said, so the programs cannot be moved.

The university has 2,790 beds, Lachowski said, and 2,882 current students to house. The large number of students in the rising senior class might force more sophomores and juniors to live off campus, to make room for incoming freshmen.

In the next few years, Bigler and Lachowski said some blocks of apartments, including the 200 block, might be torn down, but plans were subject to change.

"We've had that happen frequently; sometimes things take precedent over a housing re-development plan," Bigler said.

Bigler and Lachowski said that concerns about apartment or room distribution should be directed to the housing staff. "If you have questions during room selection, or complaints, it would be helpful to us if they would come to the housing office because it's valuable information to us, and we would like to explain how the process works," Lachowski said.

Bigler said the summer renovations on the 100, 300 and 400 blocks of apartments had not affected the number of students who had participated in UFA selection.

Contact staff writer Rachel Bevels at

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