Senior Staff Writer
In order to accommodate all students who wanted to live on-campus this semester, the Residence Life Office (RLO) converted community lounge spaces in the Armfield apartment building and Belk Hall into private rooms. The College has about 1,740 beds available on campus and 1,950 enrolled students, but is able to house all students who request housing when others study abroad during the semester. Since many more students studied abroad in the fall than in the spring this year, RLO needed to maximize on-campus housing this semester.
RLO chose to convert the lounges at Armfield and Belk to living spaces because of the availability of bathroom facilities near the lounge in Belk and availability of both bathroom and kitchen facilities in the lounge at Armfield.
While on-campus housing is not guaranteed all four years, the “Guide to Campus Living”, published by RLO, states, “As a residential college, Davidson College provides on-campus housing for approximately 95 percent of the student body. We believe students are more likely to be invested in the life of the college and grow emotionally, spiritually, socially and intellectually in residence hall settings. Most students (including all first-year students) are required to live on campus all four years, although some upper-class students may live off campus with permission from the Residence Life Office (RLO).”
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence life Jason Shaffer explained that students are not offered off-campus permission in the fall due to the number of available beds on campus during that period. However, due to the number of students returning from abroad this spring, all juniors and seniors this semester were offered the option to live off campus.
“It’s supposed to be that only people who are given off-campus permission can live off-campus,” Shaffer said. “If they are given off-campus permission it is because we do not have enough beds on campus.”
Students who went abroad this fall were offered off-campus housing permission around May of last year. In November, RLO reached out to these students again because about 20 more students requested on-campus housing than RLO anticipated having space for. By the middle of December every student either had an assignment or had chosen to live off-campus.
An anonymous student who studied abroad this past fall and was placed in a lounge, but opted to live off campus, said, “While I understand that Residence Life did all they could to accommodate for so many students, I wish I had been notified sooner of my placement. The lack of certainty in living situations on campus seemed to cause more students to seek out off-campus options.”
According to Student Government Association President Pablo Zevallos `16, there are students who live as far away as Cornelius and on Lake Norman. Zevallos believes that RLO is doing its best with a no off-campus housing policy.
“I think students are rightfully dissatisfied with how the housing process went this year,” he said. “There has to be a better way than to create a system that so disrupts people’s ability to find decent housing when they come back from abroad.”
On the other hand, there are some students who enjoy the off-campus housing option.
“Living off campus has been really great so far. I volunteered to do so along with a couple buddies who were in my cluster because we were made aware that we wouldn’t be able to live together on campus,” Thomas Rocca ‘17 said. “Finding short term housing was a bit of a pain […], but, considering what we got – three bedrooms with a bathroom each – and for what price – about the rate of a Davidson double, it was definitely worth it. An unexpected benefit has been the feeling that when I come to campus I’m here to work, so I become more productive in an effort to come home and enjoy it.”