For the 11th consecutive year, the University of Maine welcomed a record-breaking first-year class to campus.
“We’re thrilled about the size and quality of the new class,” said Robert Dana, dean of students. “It says volumes about how friendly UMaine is and how high-quality UMaine is.”
As a consequence of this first-year influx, the university has had to be creative in order to provide housing. Out of 2,173 first-year students, approximately 200 are reportedly living in converted study halls within first-year resident halls.
UMaine Director of Public Relations Joe Carr explained that remodeling projects at Colvin and Stodder Halls reduced the number of available rooms this semester. When those projects are complete, Carr said, the student housing situation will be significantly enhanced.
Faculty and students have mixed opinions on the overcrowding issue. “I absolutely love it!” said Jennifer Cornish, a first-year student residing in a lounge of Cumberland Hall. Cornish and others embraced the “roomy” atmosphere of the study halls.
The temporary housing, according to some students, provides a better social experience than regular rooms on campus. Some students leave their doors open to welcome and invite others into their rooms -sometimes to study and other times to socialize.
With all the bonuses that these temporarily provide, there are still a number of basic accommodations these rooms lack.
Inadequate furniture is an issue in these “suites.” At most, the three or four students who were put into each of these lounges are furnished with no more than two desks and two dressers to share, in comparison to one desk and one dresser per person in double rooms.
In the Oxford, Somerset and Knox resident halls, lounges are located in the middle of the building, leaving it without a window. Lounges in Androscoggin, Cumberland and Gannett Halls are located to the side of each building, but have large windows facing the main hallways.
In an attempt to fix the situation, thin layers of colored paper have been pasted over the glass to create some sense of privacy. Staff members measured windows and will soon equip the study halls with blinds.
Student complaints about the window problems include faint colorful glows from the hallway lights and unwanted amounts of noise early in the day and late at night.
“The lights go on and off at night,” Guy Landers said, noting the light switch for his room in Knox Hall located on the outside.
A number of students who live in the study lounges applied for housing later than suggested. “There was a sharp increase in housing requests as we moved toward September, and that is when it became clear that it would be difficult to satisfy all of those requests,” Carr said.
Despite some inconveniences, one disappointment with the lounges is that they will be temporary.
“We just really can’t settle in,” said James Crossland, a first-year resident of Cumberland Hall.
Notifications were sent via e-mail telling students they will move out of the lounge rooms and into actual resident rooms soon.
Relocation has begun for some living in lounges, while others are still waiting for their opportunity to move into a real room.