Large first-year class limits housing options
The large size of the Class of 2015 meant that 35 fewer juniors and seniors than last year were able to select on-campus housing in this year's housing lottery, according to Department of Community Living Senior Director Jeremy Leiferman.
This shift was caused by DCL's decision to designate an additional floor in the Village for sophomores that had previously been reserved for upperclassmen. Sophomores are guaranteed on-campus housing, and the change had to be made to ensure that all sophomores who requested housing were accommodated.
There are also slightly more students who are planning on studying abroad next spring than there are this spring, according to Leiferman.
Students who are studying abroad in the spring are guaranteed on-campus housing in the fall, and an increase in these students adds to the number of students who are guaranteed housing, further cutting down on non-gauranteed juniors and seniors receiving housing.
According to Leiferman, changes in class designations, meaning which floors of which buildings are reserved for which classes, like this one, are not abnormal. "The housing designations do change each year," he said in an interview with the Justice. "It's not an anomaly for us to change these designations."
Leiferman suggested that while the Class of 2015 is large compared to classes in recent years, it is not that far outside the sizes that classes have reached in the longer-term history of the University.
However, a 2001 Justice article quotes then-Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy as saying that University admissions had a target class size of 775 students for the Class of 2005, which contrasts with the 972 students in the Class of 2015, including midyears.
Additionally, Common Data Sets available on the Brandeis website reveal that between 1993 and 2004, the largest entering class was 874, in 1995, almost 100 less than this year's. These statistics suggest that the student body has grown significantly in recent years.
One adjustment that has resulted from larger class sizes is the increasing use of lofted triples, or double rooms that are converted so that three students can be housed within them. This year, 225 first-year students live in 75 lofted triples, an increase from last year, when there were only 90 students living in 30 lofted triples.
"For the foreseeable future, lofted triples will remain part of the housing for freshmen," said Leiferman. "We realize that they're not an ideal situation, but in order to manage the number of students on campus total, it's what we are working with."
The housing lottery ended at lottery number 1535 this year, almost 300 numbers earlier than last year's end number of 1816.
Leiferman said that this is another statistic that can vary from year to year. According to the DCL website, housing has run out at anywhere between 1404 and 2136 in the last seven years.
"There's a lot of things that can affect that. It's really, at the end of the day, about efficiency, and how efficiently students progress through room selection," said Leiferman. He explained, "It's really about how pull-ins are used. If the first 400 numbers are pulling students with numbers 2000 and above, that's going to concentrate the use of those numbers, whereas if number 1 pulls in numbers 5-10, it trickles back up."
Because more juniors and seniors were denied a selection in the lottery this year, there are also more students who were placed on the waitlist for housing.
According to Leiferman, there will probably be over 200 students on the waitlist, which represents a greater number than in previous years.
But Leiferman was again quick to point out that these numbers fluctuate every year, and have been this high or higher in the past.
"Looking back five years ago, the number for the waitlist was much bigger than 200," he said.
Students placed on the waitlist are given spaces initially reserved for potential emergencies that are no longer needed or rooms opened up by students who transfer, leave school or decide to live off campus.
Leiferman said that he was "optimistic" that DCL would be able to accommodate all of the students placed on the waitlist.
According to the DCL website, all students on the housing waitlist in the last three years have been offered on-campus housing.
In an email to the Justice, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel expressed pride in the fact that such a large undergraduates live on campus, projecting that between 2,875 and 2,895 students, or 80 to 81 percent of the student body, will do so next year.
This is a large percentage in comparison to the average for national universities, which is 38.5 percent.
However, he also acknowledged the "very real challenge of supporting our students, both ... [in] housing and in maintaining a close sense of community on and off campus."
He wrote that the strategic planning process will likely address the development of that community.
Flagel also emphasized the importance of off-campus housing, saying that the University "will continue to explore best practices in keeping off-campus students actively engaged."
He pointed to the Office of Community Living's new connection with an off-campus housing posting service called jumpoffcampus.com, which allows landlords to list their properties and students to search for apartments.
Flagel concluded his email by saying that "like every major institution, we're seeking to balance the amount of housing to have available with other resources needs across the institution."
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