Dickinson State University residence halls crowded, students triple up in dorm roomsWhen James Bushnell and Tate Wallman moved into their room at Dickinson State University Selke Hall they were given an unexpected gift — a third roommate.
By: By Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press
When James Bushnell and Tate Wallman moved into their room at Dickinson State University Selke Hall they were given an unexpected gift — a third roommate.
“When we moved all our stuff in it was tight and when the third person showed up it only got worse from there,” Bushnell said. “It’s kind of crowded in here, but as long as you talk to each other and work things out it’s not too bad.”
DSU Vice President for Student Development Hal Haynes said residence halls are built to accommodate 618 students and 716 people are expected to be residing there.
Many began moving in Friday.
An extra bed has been moved into 47 female and 48 male rooms intended for double occupancy, Haynes said.
“I think this is a less-than-ideal situation,” he said. “I believe anytime you get into the triple mode, you diminish the overall experience for the students and it’s not ideal.”
The first time DSU dealt with this situation was in 2008. Last year, about 30 rooms were at triple occupancy, but the issue was resolved quickly as students moved off campus or didn’t show up, Haynes said.
“Juniors and seniors historically move off campus but we have seen a 20 percent increase in the number of domestic students that are juniors and seniors returning back to campus,” he said.
High rental costs in Dickinson mean many students can’t afford to live off campus, Haynes said.
Another reason DSU housing is tight is because 294 international students, who usually reside on campus were enrolled last year and 375 are expected this fall, he said.
Wallman and Bushnell say they would rather have only one roommate, but Lydia Dworshak, DSU director of residential life said some students enjoy and request three students in a room.
Dickinson City Building Official Mel Zent said codes require each person in a dormitory have 50 square feet.
According to DSU’s website, the smallest residence hall room is 155 square feet.
Adding a fourth person would not only violate building codes “that would be horrific,” Haynes said. “Ultimately the university is going to be confronted with this issue of there simply is no space.”
A committee will be working on a solution, but he is unsure when decisions will be made.
“I would hope that we can identify meaningful and tangible midterm and longterm solutions fairly soon and certainly as we head toward 2012,” Haynes said. “Clearly we need some answers.”
At one time DSU had six dormitories, since that’s what Klinefelter, Stickney and Pulver halls were originally, he said.
“The enrollment’s decreased so much over the years that we didn’t have a need,” Haynes said.
Converting Pulver Hall, which is now offices, back to a residence hall is an option to ease the crunch, but there are drawbacks, he said.
“Really, it’s still a university building and the people who are doing business there are really just leasing it from the university,” Haynes said. “If we lose that then we lose it as a revenue generator. Over time, the building has been converted into office space, so there would be some challenges there to convert it back to living space.”
Badlands Human Service Center, which leases five of six floors plus the basement of Pulver Hall, may move out in the next few years, said Tim Sauter, regional director for Badlands Human Service.
“Certainly if they were going to look at converting it back and we were planning to be here, then we would have had to find a new location,” Sauter said. “I guess it would depend on their timing, but it’s something we would work with them on.”
In the meantime, students must cope.
“There’s just not room for anything,” Wallman said. “You learn to share all your stuff.”