Because of increased enrollment and dorm renovations, Western couldn’t house all sophomores and incoming freshmen this fall.
This weekend, some freshmen were moving into off-campus housing and 40 more were still on waiting lists to get into the dorms, according to Kit Tolbert, director of Housing Operations.
Many freshmen, facing the hassle of finding their own housing, decided to go to other schools, one university administrator said.
In late June, administrators realized Western wouldn’t be able to house all of the incoming students. Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and Campus Services, said the university suspended a policy that required sophomores to live on campus.
Western notified all sophomores near the end of June, giving them the option to move off campus. Tolbert said 175 to 200 sophomores were released.
The university then informed incoming students that campus housing was overcrowded and gave them two options: find another place to stay, or get on a waiting list for the dorms.
While some freshmen were pleased with the prospect of living off campus, others would have rather stayed in a dorm room.
“They screwed us over, and they messed everything up for everybody,” Courtney Hay, a freshman from Gallatin, Tenn., said before signing in to her apartment at Western Place.
Hay received a letter in July telling her she did not have a place to live. She said originally the university did not offer to help, but later administrators sent a letter with possible places to live.
However, even with the mix-ups, Hay said she still thinks living at Western Place will work.
Hay’s roommate, Cori Herring, also a Gallatin freshman, said she came to Western to get the full college experience – including living in the dorms.
“If I hadn’t found (Western Place), I wouldn’t have come,” Herring said.
Betty Myers, business manager at Western Place, said Western sent numerous people to their complex. She said all the apartments are filled, and they now have a waiting list.
Some students also moved into The Gables apartments.
Gables Community Assistant Neil Dobbins said Western contacted the Gables to see if they had any apartments available for extra students. But Dobbins said they could only take a few.
Luther Hughes, associate vice president of Enrollment Management, said Western lost more than 50 students to other schools because they could not find housing.
Most of those students, Hughes said, were first-year freshmen and sophomores.
“It caused us some concern because my staff had worked hard in recruiting those students,” Hughes said. “I know housing did everything they could.”
Tolbert said the students on the waiting list are being notified as spaces become available. She said Housing and Residence Life is calling them, but those who aren’t called should check in today.
HRL began declaring no-shows last night at midnight. This week, those rooms will be given to students on the waiting list. In the mean time, those students have had to work out their own accommodations.
“We are not renting motels,” Tice said.
He said the university’s goal is to house as many of the incoming freshmen as they can.
“I think it’s very important for the freshman to live on campus,” Tice said.
Tolbert hopes HRL will have a better idea of how many students are coming next year. She isn’t sure whether sophomores will have to live on campus, but said the university will give housing priority to incoming freshmen.
Tice said the university will be better prepared in the future.
“This won’t be a surprise next year,” he said.
BEGITALHerald Reporter Molly O’Connor can be reached at [email protected] ENDITAL