Space Issues Challenage Freshmen

Morgan Harding, Ellen Hoffman, Editorial Staff

The doorways to apartments seven and eight at Nittany Commons where MU students reside.

University officials welcomed the largest freshman class in university history along with a new problem: a lack of space.

Numerous first years are tripled in McHale Hall dorm rooms, and two floors in Alumnae Hall are reserved for freshmen in an effort to solve space crunch. Residence Life housed newcomers in Machel Hall and the White House, both located on Lake Street, as well as the Nittany Commons apartments on the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus.

AJ Nudo, Director of Residence Life, said he initially felt a little nervous when he saw the large number of incoming students.

“In my position, where I am the one who places the freshmen, it was a little scary having that number so high. It was a little nerve-racking because we obviously want to try and do best by the freshmen.”

Nudo and his staff are working hard to reduce the occupancy of rooms housing three students. This is not the first time he has dealt with cramped quarters. In his five years working with Residence Life at MU he has had to place students in tripled dorms but not quite as many.  Nudo said that often toward the end of the fall semester, a number of students  do not return to campus, for a number of reasons, and that frees rooms to become available for some of the tripled students.

“Traditionally, the end of the semester we obviously see some drops of students, so we hope as the spring semester approaches to be able to de-triple some of these people, but there is a possibility some of them could be living in the triples the entire year.”

McHale is the only traditional, two-bedroom dorm on campus that can allow for triples. Alumnae supports doubled rooms but cannot house triples because the ceilings are much lower than they are in McHale, and they cannot support high, lofted beds, according to Nudo.

Abriel McCann, a first year Speech Language Pathology major, lives in a triple on the second floor of McHale. McCann and her roommates, Brianna Fischer and Kelcey Langan, said they get along well for living in such small quarters.

“We don’t really mind being tripled,” McCann said. “It’s just a lot of ducking and weaving around furniture and things, but for the most part we each have our own space in the room.”

McCann, Fischer and Langan had the opportunity to de-triple if one of them wanted to move to the White House, but they declined, saying  they all wanted to stay close together and on campus. Now that they turned down the option, they are last on the list to be moved.

The tripled roommates wanted to stay on Misericordia’s campus and close to their classrooms and other students. First year Jevin Fluegel, housed on Penn State’s Wilkes-Barre campus in Nittany Commons, welcomes the opportunity to live on his own during his first year away from home.

“I feel that living off campus and having your own apartment is kind of cool because you can treat it like it’s the real world,” he said. “It’s kind of like living the real world but going to college at the same time.”

Fluegel did note some disadvantages of living miles away from campus. He did not anticipate having to make an earlier start to each day to allow for travel. He also spends longer days on campus to avoid making the drive back and forth, but he said this helps him to better manage his time.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre does offer students a less costly flat rate rather than a monthly fee for housing, and Fluegel sees the silver lining:  he can stay free of more college debt.

“I feel that I’m saving a lot of money staying off campus,” he said. “You know people talk about college debt, and I don’t want to be in any more debt than I could be with living on campus.”

Junior Hilary Hoover, Resident Advisor of the White House, feels there are both advantages and disadvantages to living away from campus. She resides over nine first year girls who she says like the opportunities they enjoy living on Lake Street.

“It really works out nice because if you’d rather be in more of a spacious living condition rather than being tripled, it turns out to be a really good deal. I mean, you aren’t directly on campus, but you do have a lot more freedom and more opportunities to learn to succeed your first year,” Hoover said.