No vacancy: CWU hits housing capacity

Samuel Beaumonte, Staff Reporter

Students walk into the SURC on a busy Monday morning. On any given weekday, 18,000 people visit the SURC. Mikaela Nickolds/TheObserver

CWU experienced a record amount of incoming students this fall, beating the previous record by roughly 250 students.

This created a pattern, as the past two years have both beaten their previous first-year student enrollment records.

This influx of students has led CWU Housing to seek out alternative residences for students. Last year they opened up a floor of Munson Hall to students and this year they have decided to dedicate the whole building to housing. They are also considering changing lounges like those in Barto Hall to temporary residence for students in over-assignment (housing waitlist).

“Admissions keeps admitting everyday, and we’re also overseeing orientation,”  Dr. Jenna Hyatt, the associate dean of student living said. “So we were seeing in our housing contract and our orientation numbers that we were going into over-assignment capacity.”

As of two weeks ago, all students have made it out of over-assignment due to cancellations, but Hyatt said CWU is still at capacity and there isn’t much room left.

In addition to the incoming students, CWU is experiencing some of the highest return rates for students wanting to stay on campus. This adds to the availability dilemma since most freshman who come to CWU have to stay on campus.

Because of this, returning students who missed the early assignment deadline may have found it difficult to secure on-campus housing as the waitlist built up.

Those seeking off-campus housing faced similar problems as the majority of apartment complexes reached capacity by late August.

“I was looking for a place to live for the school year, and when I called Central they told me they were full,” Sophomore Akrem Dawed, a computer science major, said. “So I started looking for apartments, and I was waiting to hear back from waitlists. I was emailed about two weeks before school started saying that I made it through the waitlist for University Park & Place.”

With the combination of record first-year and returning students, CWU Housing is looking for a more permanent solution to over-assignment.

“In July the Board of Trustees met in their annual summer meeting and gave us the go ahead to start engaging in the two-year process to build a residence hall,” Hyatt said. “So we’re looking at north of campus, across from the library.”

There isn’t a set date for the residence hall to begin construction, but the current plans include roughly 400 beds and the possible inclusion of a new dining facility.

Hyatt also stated that the building will try to follow the lead that Barto and Wendell Hall took with technology innovations. With Barto Hall receiving the LEED Platinum certification this summer, the highest reward possibly given by The United States Council of Green Building, CWU housing has high hopes for the new hall.

“The growth of our enrollment and the reason why we need to build more beds is because the trustees want us to grow pretty substantially over the next five years,” Hyatt said.

Alternative contingency plans included potentially partnering with local hotels in order to house excess enrollment numbers, as well as possibly asking Resident Assistants who currently are assigned single rooms to prepare for having a roommate.

While Hyatt says neither of these plans were needed for this year, CWU is expecting continued growth in the next few years.Ideas like this may be needed in the future.

“It’s been tremendous, where we are at right now is what we want as a university. It didn’t just happen on accident,” Hyatt said. “One record would say 50 per year would get us to this, and there’s this end goal of getting up to 16,000 students.”