Slippery Rock University (SRU) is currently over its living capacity for on-campus residents.
Six students are temporarily being housed in one conference room in North Hall with construction paper covering its glass doors.
Additionally, the school has residents occupying a guest showroom in Watson Hall and is requiring several Community Assistants (CAs) to have roommates, though they typically live alone. They have also reinstated three-person rooms in traditional housing.
“This is temporary…we did our best to be very clear of what that cost was, that this is a supplemental space, we’ll move you when we can,” Housing Director Dan Brown said.
Traditional housing was at 105% capacity as of the first week of classes, according to Brown. Supplemental housing, such as guest showrooms and the North Hall conference room, fell at 99% occupancy. The Residential Suites sat at 103% with supplemental housing also at 99%.
Brown said the total number of on-campus residents as of August 25 was 2,809.
“That’s full capacity…with supplemental [housing] and CA roommates. That’s everything we have to offer,” he said.“[It is the] same basically at the Rock Apartments. I think there is one empty bed down there.”
This is not the first time the university has used supplemental housing. In fact, three-person rooms were used regularly until the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Students who live in three-person dorms are charged a lower price than those in two-person dorms because the room cost is split into three instead of two. It is unclear whether the six students in North Hall are paying full price, though they will not be there permanently.
“The number one question is, ‘when can a student expect to move?,’ and it really just depends on what we call ‘the melt’–folks that withdrawal and unfortunately come and say ‘this isn’t for me’,” he said.
North Hall CA Austin Gouglar said that the CAs were not aware of the situation until they arrived for training. However, it is in the CA contract that they must accept roommates if the university needs space.
CAs last had roommates in 2016 when occupancy was higher than it is now.
Brown claimed the situation this time may be due to students who did not get to live on campus during the pandemic.
“It shows that people value living on campus…” he said, “but there are people that have to be on campus to go to class…That’s where we say ‘How do we add more triples and supplemental space to get you here?’”
“Of course I’d like to say everyone got into a standard issue space, but it shows we’re [making] good progress…it’s a good thing that people want to be here,” Brown said.
Taylor Kline, a desk attendant lead who has worked in Watson Hall for three years, said the situation “raises the question of where their work starts and ends” in reference to CAs who have roommates.
Kline agrees that students may be flocking to campus because of the pandemic and said that “every square inch is taken.”
Next academic year, SRU is enacting a policy that will require sophomores to live on campus. “There’s no way we will be able to implement that if we keep getting these numbers,” Kline said.
The school will likely use three-person dorms from this point forward, according to Brown.
“We’d have triples established further in advance,” he said. “Some people look at triples as a negative, but some really view it as a positive. They may want to live with two of their friends…it can be helpful to families in certain financial situations…There is a lot of value on both sides with off-campus and on-campus [living].”