Our View: No longer a matter of who but how many

DKS Editors

Finding out who your roommate will be as an incoming college freshman is always a nerve-racking moment. Excitement and trepidation set in upon reading the first and last name printed next to yours on the roommate assignment form.

“Will we get along?” is usually the first question that pops into the freshman mind, followed by a string of other worries: How will we coordinate getting ready in the morning? What if this person always has friends over to the room? What if our styles clash?

Finding out you have more than one roommate – three more in some cases – would be a different matter entirely. But for 133 freshmen this year, that’s what happened when they received their housing assignments.

A 3 percent spike in freshmen enrollment paired with the closing of Small Group residence halls caused on-campus housing to reach a 102 percent occupancy rate this semester. In essence, there are more bodies than bunk beds for each room on campus.

Kent State administrators, however, acted quickly and efficiently by transforming lounges into rooms, turning doubles into triples and asking resident assistants to welcome a roommate for a few weeks.

Let’s face it: What more could they really do? Freezing on-campus housing at the 100 percent occupancy rate would turn incoming students away. That means losing more money and running the risk of less-than-stellar retention rates.

Still, advance notice is always nice – and can be advantageous. Students in overflow housing received notice of their situation only a few weeks prior to moving into their residence halls. In other words, they received notice a few weeks too late to make alternative plans, such as commuting or living in an apartment.

Instead, students stuck in temporary housing must settle into a routine in their plural roommate situation, only to be uprooted shortly to relocate to their permanent home away from home.

But aside from a few inconveniences, students do not have much ground for complaints, especially because they are receiving a discount. Housing surpluses are not uncommon for universities. Kent State’s housing issue pales in comparison to Akron’s task of finding living arrangements for 300 more students past its capacity level this semester.

Plus, this year’s housing overflow problem appears to be a high point before a series of enrollment-declining years. High school graduating classes are shrinking, meaning less incoming freshmen across the board in Ohio.

It’s already day four of the semester. By now, some students are already calling it quits and dropping out of Kent State. Others never showed up in the first place. Little by little, the temporarily displaced freshmen will be leaving their current sleepover-style rooms to settle in traditional dorm rooms.

Unfortunately, Movers and Groovers won’t be around to help these students make the second move. Let’s hope the university has other plans to help them make the transition. Students shouldn’t be left carrying the burden themselves – literally.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.