Brian Buford puts down his video game controller and pulls a chair from amid the reigning chaos. Buford, a freshman business major, apologizes for the mess. Bunked beds unmade, clothes shamelessly piled on the floor, books scattered on tabletops – your typical dorm room. But don’t be fooled. This is a study room on the second floor in Waits Hall.
A housing shortage on campus has landed some students in uncomfortable living arrangements. In the Waits Hall study room, laptops and books rest on two small tables that are used as desks. Three students share a dresser and a clothes rack that stands in the corner of the room. The rest of their belongings grace the floor or remain jammed inside their bags, which loom from under the beds. “Not a study room” warns a sign posted outside the door. But oblivious residents insist on barging into the room, which can be locked only from the outside.
This lack of privacy is offset by a sense of confinement that stems from the absence of windows. Spencer Youtsey, a freshman premajor and one of the study room residents, said the room is pitch dark when the lights go off and that his alarm clock is the only indication of time.
“We don’t feel like we’re settled in,” said Sam Thompson, a freshman prebusiness major who also lives in the study room.
Thompson, Youtsey and Buford are not the only students hanging in residential limbo. At the beginning of the semester, about 50 male students were living in lounges, study rooms or with resident assistants. The current number of students without fixed housing is less than 30, according to Mindy Hollan, assistant director of housing assignments.
Hollan said residential crowding is the result of a surge in male applicants, a shift in the 60:40 women-to-men ratio that is usual at TCU to a 58:42 ratio. She said this put a strain on the school because most on-campus housing is designated for female students. Students are being reassigned as spaces become available.
TCU should make a greater effort to accommodate students. The school should have anticipated problems in space availability when the new policy was introduced requiring sophomores to live on campus. The two new residence halls eased the load but didn’t solve the problem. As to the increase in male residents, the staff of Residential Services should have been wary about the whims of gender demographics.
The opening of two additional residence halls next spring will hopefully alleviate crowding. However, the administration should also consider turning all residence halls coed to avoid gender-based housing shortages.
Julieta Chiquillo is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from San Salvador, El Salvador.