Residences over-crowded

Students participate in the annual moving in ritual at Victorial Hall.
Students participate in the annual moving in ritual at Victorial Hall.
Lorna Bennett

Members of the class of 2004 who have a permanent residence room are breathing a sigh of relief as they watch some of their new friends spend the first days of residence life in somewhat uncomfortable surroundings.

As in years past, the number of students who requested a room in residence has exceeded the number of rooms available, and the university is scrambling to find these students proper housing. All first-year students who are admitted to Queen’s in the first round of admissions are guaranteed a residence room. Roxy Denniston-Stewart, assistant dean of student affairs, said that the University took the necessary steps to ensure that this promise was fulfilled.

“To accommodate the additional students we maximized our use of economy doubles by placing all persons who requested this option in one. We utilized all of the extra large rooms that were designed as triples and converted them back to triples, and we converted a large number of lounges to double rooms,” she said.

Despite this effort, there were still approximately 30 students who were left without a permanent residence room. Denniston-Stewart said that these students are also being accommodated in temporary rooms.

“It is our desire to move them to other rooms when they become available. A certain number of students always leave or do not show up at all. We then distribute these rooms to those in temporary. This is not a unique situation and this year fewer students are in temporary than there were last year,” she explained.

Students were informed before arriving at Queen’s if they were in a temporary residence room. Upon arrival, the University held a meeting to answer any questions students or their parents had with regards to the arrangement. Denniston-Stewart said that those in attendance were very understanding of the situation.

Although the rooms are only temporary, they have all the conveniences of a regular residence room, including internet and telephone connections. When a student moves out of temporary residence and into a permanent room their telephone number will also travel with them.

Denniston-Stewart anticipates that students will be out of temporary residence rooms and into a room that they can call their own by the end of September.

Despite the efforts to increase bed space at Queen’s, 115 students found themselves without a place to stay in July, and were placed on a waiting list. This list included upper-year students, transfer students, and students who were accepted to Queen’s after the initial round of admissions.

This number did not include any students who were guaranteed admission to residence in the first round of admissions.

Queen’s is not alone in its accommodation troubles. On campus waiting lists have been reported across the country:

  • University of Manitoba, approximately 500 students
  • University of Victoria, 2000
  • University of Calgary, 1000
  • McGill University, approximately 100

According to The Charlatan, accommodation difficulties were compounded by unusually low vacancy rates in off campus housing. For example, in Guelph, Ontario only 0.5 per cent of housing is currently unoccupied.

Denniston-Stewart explained that the University offered the appropriate assistance to Queen’s students.

“Students were either sent a letter or were called to inform them that residence was at capacity. We provided them with a number of alternative suggestions such as the Science ’44 Co-Op, Louise House and of course the Off-Campus Housing list and the Housing and Apartment Services number and web site,” she said, adding that the waiting list was actually shorter due to the number of students who were accommodated through temporary rooms.

As university enrollment increases over the next several years, it may become less feasible to guarantee first-year students a room in residence, even if they register early. Bob Crawford, dean of student affairs, said the university will be examining this issue in coming months.

“There is no plan that the policy will change, but clearly we can’t have a policy to guarantee something we can’t deliver. This issue will be resolved in discussions this fall,” he said.

“We will revisit the question and make sure that we have policies that we are fully able to accommodate.”

—With files from The Charlatan

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