WKU solving dorm overcrowding

Nick Bratcher

The record-breaking number of freshmen enrolling this fall has left resident assistants feeling a bit put-out with all the new students being put in to dorms.

Howard Bailey, vice president for Student Affairs, said the number of enrolled freshmen either not actually planning to attend WKU or enrolling late is so large that it has forced RAs to take roommates.

“That’s a temporary location,” he said. “As soon as we identify the ‘no-shows’ next week, we will move those students out of the resident assistant room into a permanent room.”

This leaves RAs such as Morehead junior Dylan Georgette shouldering the responsibility.

“We need a single room because we need a place to relax and unwind from our job,” he said. “It’s hard to do that if we have a resident from our floor or any other floor living with us.”

Sharing the room also hinders many RAs from doing their job, Georgette said.

“It’s the closest thing we have to an office,” he said. “If we have problems with a resident or we need to talk things over, we have to bring him in there. You can’t do that with another resident listening.”

Under current policy, freshmen and sophomores are required to live in a dorm.  To avoid overbooking, WKU offered eligible sophomores with a 3.0 GPA an opportunity to cancel their housing contracts this summer.

“The first 100 students who cancel their housing between now and July 28 will receive a full refund of the $150 deposit and have all housing fees for the 2011-12 school year removed from their account,” said the email sent from Housing and Residence Life on July 22.

WKU has plans to alleviate the housing crunch in the long term next fall by adding apartment-style living on Kentucky Street.

Bailey said one residence hall will wrap around the third parking structure, and the others will be on the opposite side of the road. This will add about 300 beds.

“We don’t have apartment-style living in our portfolio and have wanted to do so for many years,” Bailey said.

Until then, President Gary Ransdell said WKU will do everything it can to accommodate incoming freshmen.

“It may take a temporary arrangement for a short time, but we will accommodate new students that want to live in the residence halls,” he said.

Georgette said he doesn’t blame or dislike HRL for the overbooking because he enjoys being an RA.

“People who might do this job solely for the money are missing out, but I’m not going to lie and say I’m not here for the other benefits,” he said. “The job is a lot more than making connections and building community.

“The room is just part of the package.”