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DSU expects jam-packed campus housing in fall

DICKINSON - Dickinson State University anticipates that campus housing will be pushed to capacity in the fall, said Hal Haynes, vice president for student development.

DICKINSON - Dickinson State University anticipates that campus housing will be pushed to capacity in the fall, said Hal Haynes, vice president for student development.

"If anything, it's going to be very tight. So to mitigate that, we've already contacted a couple of the motels to have as backup space at the start of the semester just in case," Haynes said.

Compared to this time last year, 60 more returning students have signed housing contracts for next fall semester. The cause for concern is that just two beds went unfilled last fall, Haynes said.

"All of our apartment space is gone. There is no apartment space remaining at this point in time. Now our residence halls, we have plenty of space," Haynes said.

The university's three residence halls and six apartment buildings have a capacity of 637 students. During these past spring and fall semesters, 635 of those spots were occupied, Haynes said.

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Stuart Savelkoul, DSU's housing coordinator, said housing is usually tight in the fall with spaces for the spring opening up as students withdraw. Spring housing enrollment normally is around 580 or 590, Haynes said.

But this spring, DSU saw unusually strong retention among students living in university housing. Savelkoul credits this fact to an experienced staff of resident directors and advisers.

Haynes said a housing situation with "not a whole lot of wiggle room" makes it difficult for administrators to meet requests for changes. In a case of incompatible roommates, the school will sometimes coordinate a swap with another unsuited pair, Haynes said.

DSU freshmen and sophomores who do not live within 25 miles of campus must reside in university housing. Savelkoul said that if necessary, DSU may relax that requirement and allow sophomores to live off campus. He said there are more than a few sophomores who would prefer to do so.

But Savelkoul and Haynes said that they would like to offer as many students as possible the chance to live on campus.

"We want to do everything we can to keep these students in (campus) housing because we know that's what's in the best interest for them academically," Savelkoul said.

Haynes said it's also in a student's financial interest to live in university housing.

"I will argue it's much, much more affordable to live on campus," Haynes said. "The apartment market in town has gotten much more expensive...The availability of housing has gotten tighter."

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Students get room, board, free laundry and utilities, including phone, cable and Internet, in one payment package, Haynes said.

Savelkoul said the increased demand for university housing is due to more international students attending DSU. Roughly half of those living in the dorms are international students, he said.

"The international students are the whole reason. We have far fewer domestic students living on campus than we did five years ago, but we have a much greater amount of international students," he said.

However, Haynes said the increased number of international students is just one factor contributing to the housing crunch.

"I would like to say that we've got more and more domestic students that are staying around because it's affordable and the environment is good," he said.

Haynes said in past years when housing was tight, the university resorted to adding beds to rooms, turning lounges into sleeping areas and temporarily putting up students in motels and hotels. But the university has not had to refuse housing to a student, he said.

"We have yet to say to students...'There's no place at the inn for you,'" he said.

Haynes said there has been casual conversation about building new university housing, but officially it's "not on the radar."

Related Topics: HOUSING
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