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ResLife offers roommate application to rising sophomores, prepares to expand housing options for fall semester

May 14, 2021

Ben Mathews
making space: Park Row Apartments. The College is expanding housing opportunities on campus in anticipation of a high number of students on campus in the fall.

As the College prepares for a significant increase in the number of students on campus in the fall, the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) is in the process of finding housing accommodations for all returning students. To address the issue, ResLife is looking to expand the number of buildings designated as residence halls and the number of students per room in these residence halls, as well as offer alternative ways to find roommates for sophomores.

There is substantial uncertainty in determining how students are to be housed next year. The number of students that will be on campus in the fall is unclear, based on the still undetermined size of the class of 2025, the number of students finalizing returns from personal leaves of absences and the decisions about whether certain fall semester abroad programs will be permitted.

To expand the College’s housing options, buildings on or near campus currently without occupants will be converted to student housing for the fall. 84/86 Federal St. was last used as student housing in 2017-2018, but its two quad and two double apartments will be available once again to students next year.

Other currently vacant buildings may also become student housing but have not yet been confirmed.

The number of students in buildings already in use as housing will also increase next year from the number of occupants in 2019-2020. Director of Residential and Housing Operations Lisa Rendall said in a Zoom interview with the Orient that she and her team are looking to add between 10 and 40 beds to the current quantity in campus buildings. She is also expecting to add additional beds to every residence hall, including first year bricks and all upperclass housing.

Recognizing the fact that many current first years may not have roommates selected for the fall, ResLife is offering rising sophomores an alternative to blocking with other students and going through the housing lottery. Current first years can fill out a survey—similar to the one completed before matriculating—about their living preferences and will be assigned a roommate based on the survey results. Matched roommates will then be assigned a residence by the Office of Residential Life.

“There are a lot of first year students who either have not been on campus at all and have been fully remote all year, or were only here one semester and just didn’t make those connections that you’re able to make when you’re here for a year,” Rendall said. “We were hearing from the first year dean’s office, and there was a lot of anxiety about, ‘Who am I going to live with, I don’t really know people’… It can be a really isolating feeling.”

The option to be matched with a roommate was released Monday after College House decisions came out. First years have until June 1 to complete the form.

“It’s a leap of faith. I would say that they’re hoping that we’ll do okay with our assignments,” Rendall said. “But for some students, I think they just want to know they’re going to have housing, and they’re going to be happy to be back at Bowdoin. And they don’t want to be worrying about that in June.”

Loftin Propst ’24 plans to submit a roommate matching form. Both not having a roommate while being on campus in the fall and the desire to make a variety of friends during his sophomore year contributed to his decision to put his trust in the Office of Residential Life.

“I want to meet somebody that I otherwise wouldn’t have met and trust that I’ve been paired with somebody that’s reasonably like me—or at least somebody that I can get along with,” Propst said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

“I’ve met at least a few [first years] who just feel that, especially with COVID, we’ve been a little bit trapped in these bubbles,” Propst said. “So I think, from what I’ve seen, a lot of friends of mine are inclined to just diversify—to meet new people… As much as I love my friends and as much as I know that they love me, it’ll be nice to have a new roommate.”

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