Record number of students causes crowded housing

Family moves daughter into the International Living-Learning Center at Oregon State University on Sept. 19. Moving day for the ILCC occurred on Sept. 18 and 19 this year.
Family moves daughter into the International Living-Learning Center at Oregon State University on Sept. 19. Moving day for the ILCC occurred on Sept. 18 and 19 this year.
Morgan Berryman

Living on campus is a rite of passage for many college students, providing them with secure housing close to classes and opportunities to socialize. 

But what happens when there are more students than residence halls are capable of handling?

The dorms have capacity for just over 5,000 students, said Brian Stroup, director of operations and facilities for Oregon State University’s Housing and Dining Services.

“We anticipate another large incoming first-year class,” Stroup said. “Every year we prepare to house students who still need housing in a temporary location when we are at capacity. We call this short-term housing and we offer it typically to non-first-year students, but a new student who applies really late (the week before move-in as an example) could have an assignment like this until a space opens up.” 

According to OSU, the first-year student enrollment for the fall of 2022 was 7,146, an 8.3% increase from the previous year. Reportedly, this year’s enrollment has increased even more. With all first-year students being required to live on campus, the capacity may not meet the demand. 

Chandler Donahey, a third-year electrical and computer engineering major, said he personally enjoyed his time living on campus in one of the “better” dorms: a suite-style room in West Hall. Although, according to Donahey, not everyone’s living situation was as pleasant. 

“In my time since, as a painter for UHDS, I have seen first-hand the rapid overcrowding of the dorms,” Donahey said. “Rooms that were originally singles are now doubles, doubles are triples, and even lounges have begun to be transformed into quads. With the admittance of students increasing over the last several years, the housing situation with regards to space allocation is becoming more and more concerning.”

According to Stroup, there was a “high demand” for on-campus housing last year and, while that isn’t unusual, there was a substantial incoming first-year class in addition to an existing large number of students who planned to live on-campus again.

Donahey said one of the big issues incoming students may face is a “lack of adequate space” in the residence halls. He said he’s especially worried about lounges being turned into dorms, cutting out “crucial space” for socializing.

“UHDS needs to prioritize creating more space for students, while also making sure that areas such as lounges are preserved,” Donahey said. “UHDS is presently building a new dorm for graduate students, which will help alleviate some strain. However, more needs to be done.”

According to Stroup, there are projects being completed to improve lounges, kitchens and fire suppression in Wilson Hall, Callahan Hall and Bloss Hall.

“We have a new building opening in the summer of 2024 that is currently under construction at the corner of SW 11th Street and SW Madison Ave,” Stroup said. “This building will house second-year and above students and graduate students.”

Stroup also recommended that students carefully review leases and contracts being signed and suggested getting to know roommates.

For issues with housing or roommates, Stroup said students are “always welcome” to get in touch with UHDS at [email protected] to see about other options, or to join a waitlist for on-campus housing.

The UHDS website also has resources for summer housing, family housing, special interest communities like recovery, ROTC, LGBTQIA+ and more. 

For students seeking off-campus housing options, INTO OSU has a list of things to consider, and there are several apartment complexes that have large student populations such as The Sierra, The Retreat, The Quad, The 707 and more.

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