Lawrentians live in lounges

Peter Gillette

Floor lounges and RHD offices now serve as student living space in some Lawrence dormitories, as a higher percentage of non-freshmen than usual returned. Assistant Dean for Residence Life Amy Uecke and Housing Coordinator Catherine Kilgas faced an administrative Rubik’s cube of sorts this summer.

“At the time I started housing the freshman class, we were using the [Kohler and Colman] lounges as triples. Ideally, we like to keep those to doubles if we need to use them,” said Kilgas, adding that late-summer swapping did avoid the prospect of tripling.

Still, students have fewer options this year with room swaps, as there are no empty rooms on campus and swing housing is already being used. Residence Life even had to order a large supply of beds during the summer.

While the freshman class is larger than last year’s, says Admissions and Financial Aid Dean Steve Syverson, the numbers are right on target. “We base admissions rates on a target from the Registrar that takes into account retention rates and the number of returning students we expect,” Syverson said.

The idea behind the target is to keep enrollment similar from year to year. This year, however, fewer returning students and freshmen changed their minds about Lawrence over the summer. As retention rates rose, Residence Life found itself with few outs, and had to get creative.

“I’m amazed that [Kilgas and Uecke] kept their cool as much as they did this summer,” Syverson said. “I mean, at one point there were no more beds on campus.”

This year’s freshman class stands at 355, although, Syverson said, two students from Bangladesh and Pakistan are currently awaiting visas. Residence Life has also housed 26 degree-seeking transfer students, and 19 students from Waseda University in Japan.

Just as more Lawrentians decided to return, a larger proportion of males decided to accept Lawrence’s offer of admission, throwing another wrench into an already-complex process. This year’s freshman class features two more males than females, an anomaly among liberal arts schools.

“There has been lots of talk in the last few years, especially among liberal arts schools, about how many more females are accepting admission than males…Normally 45% of freshmen are males, but this year they’re virtually even. I’m not sure what large conclusions you could draw from that, but it’s certainly interesting,” Syverson said.

But the influx of males only complicated the already-difficult process, as each student group seemed to defy established trends. “We normally have a ‘wash’ of sorts at the end of the summer, where students change their mind about going to Lawrence,” Kilgas said, but this year that wash didn’t open up many rooms.

Relief is in sight, however, as a new residence hall rises from the banks of the mighty Fox, behind Ormsby—whose residents may tolerate the construction sounds a bit more than last year, as the 183-student building seems more necessary now than ever.

Plans for students currently abroad could further complicate matters, but for now, students should try to make the best of where they are.

“Just remember to be patient,” Kilgas concluded. “And if you have a problem, our offices, the RHDs, and the RLAs will work on it and do everything we can to bring a quick resolution.