University of Richmond Residence Life will be wait-listing female students coming back from fall-semester study abroad and other students returning for the spring semester who want to stay in campus housing, according to an email sent to students on Nov. 8.

The office is trying to send out housing assignments and waitlist notifications to students on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving break. The waitlist is expected to be close to 40 students, a number they had expected since September, said Patrick Benner, the director of residence life and undergraduate student housing.

“We needed to wait to see what the approved applications for study abroad were and the number of students that were accepted as next-semester exchange,” he said. 

In the meantime, Residence Life sent out an email to students abroad asking them to indicate whether they would like to live on campus. No students requested to live off campus in response to the initial email.

The housing shortage occurred this year because a higher proportion of women went abroad this semester, Benner said, and not enough female students are leaving next semester to accommodate them. Male students coming back who want to live on campus are not expected to face any issues.

“We’ll just hopefully be able to pick our way through the entire waitlist, but there’s no certainty in that because our big unknown is if we would lose any more students over the break,” he said. “Typically, we don’t lose that many, but we never know.”

There are always waitlists that vary each semester, Benner said, though it hasn’t impacted housing to this degree in past years because they’ve placed students in overflow housing. 

“We’ve stepped away from utilizing overflow lounges because it takes away from all the other students’ experience here,” he said. “When I put 12 students in a lounge, then 300 students have no communal space.”

The study abroad office doesn’t have input on decisions about on-campus housing, said Michele Cox, the director of study abroad. Still, the study abroad office warns students going abroad during fall semesters that the university will not guarantee housing for them when they return in the spring, she said.

There are 301 students abroad for just the fall semester, a few of whom are law students, Cox said. The overall number of students going abroad has been consistent the past few years, she said.

"When I got the email, I was kind of surprised," said Carson Watlington, a junior abroad in Japan. 

She said she knew housing was not guaranteed but hadn’t seen previous students have any difficulty with housing in the past.

Watlington has lived off campus in the past, and though she preferred to live off campus, she said she had a car and could manage doing so for a semester.

Valerie Szalanczy, a junior currently studying abroad at the University of St. Andrews, similarly noted a preference for staying on campus but said she understood going abroad in the fall came with the risk of not getting on-campus housing.

“It is what it is," Szalanczy said.

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