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Study, resident assistant rooms converted to temporary housing for overflow student living

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Madeleine Viceconte | The Daily Wildcat

 The lounges in Coronado residence hall have been converted into temporary living for students currently on the waiting list dorm rooms. To provide housing for as many students as possible, some residence halls were overbooked, and students in temporary living will need to stay there until others move out.  

Pulling all-nighters in a study room has a whole new meaning for students who actually have to live in them.

Students were placed into temporary housing, including converted study rooms and resident assistant rooms across campus, and will be moved if any of the 6,700 on-campus beds become empty.

The overflow housing is a solution to having more students who want to live on campus than there are beds, according to Dana Robbins-Murray, director of Administrative Services for Housing and Residential Life. 

“We typically do that every year,” Robbins-Murray said. “We call it temporary space and we convert some study spaces. We also have apartments on campus that we’ll use.”


‘Temporary space’ fillers

According to Robbins-Murray, many beds become available after the first six weeks, when students drop out or do not show up. Then, students can be moved into those now-empty beds. 

“Those students will be moved into permanent spaces — usually pretty quick — because we usually have students who decide not to come or who get to campus and decide it’s not for them and they leave, so it opens up other spaces,” Robbins-Murray said. “So by creating temporary spaces we allow more students to be able to live on campus.”

However, permanant spaces are never guaranteed, and students could live in temporary housing all semester — or all year. 

“It’s just weird not knowing. We could get a message next week, ‘Oh you’re moving to a dorm,’ or it could be next semester,”  said Kelliann Keehan, a freshman studying rehabilitation services.

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Housing space is reserved through the housing portal online. When on-campus beds fill up, students who apply for housing are placed on a waiting list. From there, students can either find housing with the help of the Off-Campus Housing department or wait to see if they are placed in temporary housing. 

For some students, temporary housing was a relief.

“It’s still nice to have a room because I was getting worried mid-July, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t have anywhere to live.’ And they kind of just made this all happen,” creative writing freshman Melanie Moreno said. 

Moreno applied for housing in the middle of July, and Keehan, Moreno’s roommate, applied in the middle of June. Housing filled up in the middle of the summer, according to Robbins-Murray.

Biology freshman Shana Fowler, who applied two months late, shared Moreno’s sentiments.

“This is a good solution. It’s better to have more people and run out of space,” Fowler said. 


Transformers: study rooms in disguise

The study rooms are set up as dorm-like as possible, with beds, desks and clothes racks provided. However, students living in those spaces don’t know if they should make themselves at home. 

“We’re trying to decide if we should decorate the room or not, because if we decorate it and they’re like ‘Ok you’re moving out tomorrow,’ there’s no point,” Moreno said.

For other students and their parents, the UA’s solution left them wanting.

“It’s just embarrassing,” Vince Dorn said. Dorn’s son, Caden, is in temporary housing. 

“I know you got to do overkill and make every penny, but I think it’s just a shame. These guys are coming from home and a nice secure environment. [They] come into a new housing after 18 years and it’s temporary, so it’s a shame,” Vince Dorn said.

According to Caden Dorn, his housing application was submitted before any deadlines, and he did not know there was a possibility he might not get a dorm room. He was also upset because he knew he wasn’t going to drop out.

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“They’re waiting on cancellations from other students. But, it’s like, why am I stuck here waiting on some other kid to just back out?” Caden Dorn said.

However, after he saw the converted study room, he was more comfortable with his situation.

“We walked in, and it was really cool in here, and it doesn’t seem like it has any disadvantages compared to the other rooms, so I wouldn’t mind staying here as of now,” he said.


Resident assistants take on added responsibility, students

RAs were asked one month ago in an email from Housing and Residential Life to make their rooms ready in case they received a temporary roommate. The email included a list of dorms where RAs were expected to make this change.

On Aug. 17, Housing and Residential Life reduced the list of available dorms to Pima, Yuma, Yavapai, Graham-Greenlee, Apache-Santa Cruz and Hopi. RAs in dorms not on  the list could also volunteer to have a temporary housing roommate.

An RA is usually granted their own room and their housing fee is waived. Putting students in RA rooms for a short time is not new, but, according to multiple RAs, some are disgruntled about the situation.

“It is frustrating, a lot of RAs and some people feel the compensation is not enough either,” said Ahmed Al-Shamari, one of two lead RAs in Colonia de la Paz. He has temporary students in the study room on his floor.

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Resident assistants are being compensated with $100 in CatCash up front if they receive a roommate, by way of Housing and Residential Life. If they still have a roommate after Sept. 4, they will receive $25 per week until permanent housing is found. The money will accumulate in RAs accounts,  but will not be dispersed until Nov. 12. 

“I’ve heard of a few people that have roommates now who think the CatCash is worth it, but the majority of what I’ve heard is that it’s just not,” said Juwan Chase, an RA in Kaibab-Huachuca. “Having to do a job and not having your own space to do that job is not really productive.”

Students will be moved as housing opens and becomes available. However, for now, the “all-nighters” in study rooms will continue. 


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