UConn Residential Life has been using study lounges as student housing for more than 10 years, but it said it hopes to give some of the lounge spaces back as soon as this year.
There are 296 students living on converted lounge spaces in Buckley, Hale, Ellsworth, South and Northwest, said Pamela Schipani, Residential Life's executive director.
Some of these spaces have been used for as long as 10 years, Schipani said, but four rooms housing eight students have been added this year in Northwest dorms. These rooms were not used last year as dorm rooms, but had been used the previous five years to house students.
“We truly believe students need a space to study, but we have to balance the study space with housing students,” Schipani said.
Schipani said they hope to convert the four Northwest rooms back to study lounges this year, but it might take as long as the semester to be able to find housing for the students currently living in them, depending on the number of room vacancies.
First-semester psychology major Mike Connelly currently lives in a converted study room in Northwest.
“The space is very large,” Connelly said. “The curtain (covering the window that looks out onto the hall) fell a couple times, but we were able to get it back up.”
Connelly also said that he and his roommate were unaware that the space would be temporary when they moved in.
“We have a petition that we are trying to get signed by the other residents saying that they don’t need the study space,” Connelly said.
Schipani said this is the first time Residential Life has said to students in the beginning of the semester that they will take these spaces back.
However, not all residents of Northwest are ready to give up their study space.
“I’m upset about the situation. There is only one study room in our building now and it’s always taken,” Kayla Ahmed, a Northwest resident and third-semester political science and human rights double major, said.
Taking students out of the study rooms also means splitting up roommate pairs.
“It’s difficult to tell students they have to split up when they are just getting close to their roommate,” Schipani said, “but we have to do the best thing for the most people.”
Schipani also mentioned that the reason students are place in temporary rooms might be because they didn’t apply for housing in time and wouldn’t have initially been guaranteed housing.
Residential Life is hoping that the new STEM residential building, which will house 727 students, will relieve the need to convert study spaces to dorms, Schipani said. However, plans to demolish Connecticut Commons, which houses 442 students, will affect the number of rooms available.
“We want to be able to guarantee four-year housing,” Schipani said, “but it depends on enrollment and how many students are choosing to live off campus.”
With more off-campus housing being built, such as the apartments in Storrs Center, Schiani believes more upperclassmen will choose to live off campus, freeing up space on campus so they can give back the study spaces.
In the past, upperclassmen had to enter a lottery system to get on campus housing, Schipani said.
Residential Life had to turn down as many as 600 students from housing when this was the case, Schipani said. In an effort to prevent this in future years, they started housing students in lounges and study rooms.
“We want to make sure going forward that when we give study spaces back to students we don’t have to take them back again,” Schipani said.
Emma Krueger is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.