With the housing lottery quickly approaching, students have begun eyeing their favorite housing options for the next academic year, and most of those who plan to live off-campus have already signed leases.
Bowdoin has, comparably, some of the best student housing around. Tour guides tout our cushy facilities all the time—but how long until a tour guide has to open the door to a first year quint? Slowly, more and more of our spacious rooms seem to be getting a little crowded. Doubles in Brunswick, West and Osher have turned into triples. Quads in Stowe Hall and Stowe Inn have become quints. And what is most worrisome is that the Class of 2014—Bowdoin's largest class ever—will soon require upperclass housing.
It is no secret that the Class of 2014 was a bit of an accident. An unexpectedly high yield rate put 25 more students in the class than were originally intended. But that fact does not mean those 25 students can squeeze into the same housing that the College owned before. That Residential Life refers to these arrangements as "forced," shows that they recognize the current situation is far from ideal.
The only housing acquisition made in preparation for next year is the addition of apartments on School Street, a building that accommodates 10 students. However, renting this building caused only superficial change; a group of current juniors had already negotiated with the landlord to live there in the next academic year, bringing the net housing gain back to zero.
In the short run, students are going to have to deal with tight living quarters and several very frustrating rounds of the housing lottery in Daggett Lounge. In order to minimize the inevitable crunch that next year will bring, the College should look into acquiring additional off-campus properties that students are not already renting. Easier said than done, but it will be an essential step given the increase in the student body.
In the long run, additional housing is going to be a necessity. Fortunately, the College is on the verge of acquiring a multitude of new land. The acres that formerly occupied Naval Air Station Brunswick are too far from campus to place residence halls, but the old Longfellow School will likely be under Bowdoin's ownership soon and might make for a fine new dormitory.
A new residence hall for upperclassmen has been in the works for some time, and construction would have been underway were it not for the recession. As the College's financial situation improves with the economy, there is no reason to postpone seriously dealing with the housing crunch.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Nick Daniels, Piper Grosswendt, Linda Kinstler and Seth Walder.