Starting in the 2019–2020 academic year, Carmichael Hall will be a residence hall for only first-year students and Harleston Hall will house only sophomores. The new policy seeks to maximize bed space and improve the housing options for both first-years and sophomores, according to former Associate Director of Housing Operations Matt Austin.
The decision was made because of a lack of beds for sophomores in Carmichael Hall and an abundance of beds for first-years in Harleston Hall, Austin told the Daily in an interview last semester.
“If we kept our building mix the same this year to next year, we would have way too many first-year beds and not enough sophomore space,” Austin said. “To make things balance and have enough beds for sophomores and also have the right amount of beds for incoming first-year students, this change was necessary.”
Joshua Hartman, director of residential life and learning, said that upperclassmen were also taken into consideration when making this decision.
“In order to maximize the number of junior and senior lottery numbers we can distribute, we need to align building capacity with expected class size,” Hartman said in an email to the Daily.
However, the decision has other significant impacts, including the creation of an all first-year residential quad.
“Having a first-year residential quad between Miller, Carmichael and Houston is hugely impactful. I think that that will be a really great addition to our community,” Austin told the Daily.
Hartman echoed this sentiment.
“We believe that a strong first-year quad experience provides an exciting new opportunity for programming, residential engagement and increased opportunity for interaction between buildings,” Hartman said.
Austin believes that the decision will positively affect sophomores, as well, because they will have access to the single bathrooms in Harleston Hall.
“Sophomores … would prefer to have [single] … bathrooms … so moving sophomores into Harleston where we have those [single] … bathrooms is a huge plus,” Austin said. “In theory, things should get better as you go through the housing here.”
In addition, Austin told the Daily that much of Latin Way will house sophomores next year, creating a potential sophomore community downhill.
“We’re excited about what that could look like for our sophomore community,” he said. “Our ability to fold in CoHo [Community Housing] has really helped us have more space for sophomores in Latin Way.”
Hartman said that reactions from students have generally been positive.
“When the decision was made last year to have Harleston shift to a first-year building, many rising sophomores were upset by the loss of the opportunity to live in Harleston,” he said. “We have shifted back to provide Harleston as an opportunity for sophomores and we have heard positive things so far from students about the shift.”
Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon described the change as a win-win.
“We’ve always had a lot of first-years who live in singles and don’t want to live in singles … But we have a shortage of singles for other people or less than the demand is,” McMahon said. “So Carm makes a lot of sense for a first-year residence hall, especially with the community space downstairs.”
Construction on Harleston Hall will take place over the summer to ensure that the building is ready for sophomores next fall, according to Hartman.
“Harleston will have significant roofing work completed this summer in time for students to move back in August,” Hartman said.
According to Austin, the Office of Residential Life in conjunction with the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs made this decision. The idea to change the housing options for different classes has been in the works since the summer of 2018 but was finalized late in the fall 2018 semester.
“It’s been a few months that I’ve at least been thinking about it, but in terms of really getting the change implemented, that’s been probably in the last six weeks,” he said.
Austin acknowledged that the building switch does not address the housing shortage for juniors and seniors that many students have protested.
“There’s not really a big effect [on the housing shortage] in this particular change because sophomores and first-years are all required to live on campus, so whether we have this building as first-year or this building as sophomore doesn’t really matter,” Austin said.
However, he also said that the university recognizes students’ desire for more on-campus housing options.
“If we had more housing or if we could build faster, I’m sure we would fill it,” Austin said. “Students would want to live on campus. So I think we’re on the same page about recognizing the need for housing, it’s just a matter of folks at the university pushing that agenda forward.”