MU freshmen continue to live in converted study rooms

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | 4:43 p.m. CDT; updated 11:15 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 31, 2012
MU freshman Maya Shelton uses her cellphone in her bedroom, a converted study room in Gillett Hall on Wednesday. Shelton moved into the alternate housing space in August because she didn't sign up for a dorm room on time. Now she likes it and says she doesn't want to move.

COLUMBIA — In August, a record-breaking number of freshmen flooded MU, prompting the need for temporary housing for 80 students. They moved into converted study rooms, student staff rooms and off-campus accommodations.

Nearly two months later, 15 students are still in makeshift rooms, making it the longest time students have been in the temporary housing at MU. 

"We do our best to squeeze students in as best we can," said Frankie Minor, director of MU Residential Life. "We do lose students over the course of the semester, but there is a possibility that some of those students may not have a permanent assignment before the end of the semester." 

Students living with student staff members were relocated to permanent accommodations in mid-October. As of last week, there were still 15 students living in converted study rooms in Hudson and Gillett halls. 

The study rooms have an aluminum and glass wall, which is covered with white board inserts. They do not have a closet or carpet.

The number of students in temporary housing edged up from fewer than 25 in fall 2011 to 80 this August, paralleling an increase in enrollment. This fall, 6,560 freshmen enrolled at MU, up from 6,168 in fall 2011.

Enrollment for first-year students has increased steadily for years — by more than 1,500 since 2007.

MU freshman Maya Shelton said her temporary room in Gillett Hall has become her home. 

"I don't really want to move out," she said. "I like having my own room, so I am enjoying that aspect. Plus, I am all settled in now."

Minor said Residential Life will work with students to remain in the spaces permanently, depending on the residential community's need for the study space.

In the spring semester, about 310 residents of Johnston Hall will be displaced because of renovations.

"We tend to lose up to 500 or more students from the fall to the spring semester, so we are not concerned," Minor said. "Some move off-campus, some study abroad, and some move in with their fraternities or sororities. It's a combination of factors. We will able to find housing for everyone."

The housing overflow catalyzed a change in how contracts are given out. A fixed number of housing contracts will be available for fall 2013 and will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Minor said he did not know how many contracts will be available to freshmen yet.

"If you drag your heels and wait, your chances will be less and less," Minor said. "The bottom line is that we try to accommodate as many people as possible, but there is only so much we can do."

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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