There are 1,190 beds at Eastern, and every single one is currently filled. However, there are far more than 1,190 students attending Eastern this semester, and every one of them needs a place to sleep. This appears to fly in the face of Eastern’s housing policy, which states that all students are required to live on campus. The situation poses several questions, such as whether doubles will become triples, or whether a new dorm will have to be built.
Bettie Ann Brigham, vice president of student development, clarifies Eastern’s housing policy by pointing out that students are only required to live on campus if space is available for them. Even if space is available, there are still exceptions to the rule. For example, students who live at home can commute to campus regardless of whether space is available for them on campus.
While there are doubles that have been converted into triples, they are rare, and few of them are forced conversions.
“Most over-occupancy situations occur voluntarily,” Brigham said. “It usually happens because a student wants to live in a particular dorm that is already filled, so the student volunteers to move into a double with friends.”
Because there are fewer rooms available for men this semester, most students in over-occupancy situations are male. In fact, because more men were accepted into Eastern this semester, a floor in Doane hall was converted from a women’s floor to a men’s floor.
Eastern’s population is growing at a steady rate. Fortunately, the administration is fully aware of this and is keeping a watchful eye on the situation. However, this does not necessarily mean that a new dormitory will be built.
“We do have plenty of legal building space left, but we have a number of projects in the works for those areas,” Brigham said. “When the time comes to expand, we will have to look at how great the need for a new dorm is.”
What will most likely occur is that the school will examine niche housing, building small expansions onto existing buildings and fitting them with apartment or suite-style housing, Brigham said.
Another possibility is that the university will rent properties off campus to accommodate housing. This method has been used by the school in the past. Eastern rented property in nearby Bryn Mawr several years ago, known as Pennswood Hall. It housed students for approximately five years until the added space became unnecessary.
“It actually proved to be quite popular,” Brigham said. “In the beginning, the students who were sent there were upset. They felt that they were being marginalized, being forced off campus. But pretty soon it became the most popular dorm at the school. When Eagle was built and the program was discontinued, the residents were actually very upset.”