More students are expected to live on campus next semester than in past years, primarily due to returns from personal leaves of absence, gap years and decreased participation in study abroad. Despite the projected increase in the on-campus student population, the College is positioned to meet increased demand for housing because of the recent openings of Harpswell and Park Row Apartments.
Lisa Rendall, director of Residential and Housing Operations, confirmed that the College had previously intended to decommission Pine Street Apartments and Stowe Inn last summer. Met with a need for extra quarantine and isolation housing this year, the plans were delayed for the 2020-2021 academic year. Randall expects students to live in Pine Street Apartments and Stowe Inn for the next couple of years in an effort to accommodate increased demand for housing.
“Once the flexes because of COVID[-19] level off, the new apartments [will] make up for [beds] lost in Pine Street and Stowe Inn,” Rendall said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Combined, Pine Street and Stowe Inn house approximately 116 students; Harpswell Apartments alone houses 132. Factoring in the additional 88 beds in Park Row, the College will see a net gain of 104 beds even after the planned decommissions.
Additionally, ResLife has increased the cap for students living off-campus for the upcoming 2021-22 academic year. This was done to accommodate what will likely be higher-than-usual enrollment numbers for the fall semester.
The College approved 136 students to live off campus next year in the annual lottery. That number is well below the cap of 175.
For the Spring 2021 semester, the College secured additional housing in the Brunswick Hotel to make it possible to house all on-campus students in single bedrooms. However, Rendall is confident that the College has the capacity necessary to house all students in the fall within College facilities.
In a departure from other years, ResLife has sent out applications to current College House residents inviting them to reapply to live in a College House again next year.
“There are many current College House residents who feel like they didn’t have the full … experience that they really wanted when they applied. I think many of them have a strong interest in actually having that … experience they hoped for,” Rendall said.
This change would allow sophomores and juniors will live together in the same College Houses next year. Rendall could yet not provide a projected ratio of current to new residents, as applications are not due until April 11.
Rendall noted that there is a precedent for mixed-year College Houses.
“Over the years that I’ve been here, we’ve had Houses with a combination of sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Rendall said. “Howell House often has a handful of seniors that get in, because [some students] really like [being] in that … environment.”
Rendall also said that she does not expect a change in College House roles and leadership.
“Officers [will still be] people who are interested and passionate,” Rendall said. “I’m not anticipating that first-time members will have a different role than they usually would due to the presence of returning [College] House members.”
Some first years, however, are worried about the repercussions of allowing upperclass students to re-apply for College Houses.
“We have all gone through [a lot]. It’s a bummer that the sophomores don’t get a full year in the Houses, [but] I worry [that] if we encourage more current sophomores to apply, there are less spots for [first years],” Megan Stretch ’24 said in an interview with the Orient.
Liliana Lines ’24, who is also applying for a spot in a College House, said she hoped that current College House residents would seek housing for next year in dorms traditionally occupied by upperclass students, including Park Row and Harpswell Apartments.
Rendall, however, said that a more mixed House composition could be an opportunity for “fresh experiences” regarding College House programming.
Stretch agreed that upperclassmen living in College Houses might allow first years to have an even more fulfilling House experience.
“Since [first years] did not get a real semester on campus, it might be nice to have a few upperclass mentors who have spent at least part of a normal year on campus [living in the College Houses],” Stretch said. “[The current first year class] hasn’t actually seen [College House] events.”
Rendall will address questions or concerns about housing for next year in a series of information sessions, with the dates to be announced later this semester.