Dorms cramp new students’ style

There were some unhappy campers last week as incoming Chico State freshmen and their parents loaded belongings into the dorm rooms at Whitney Hall, only to find that the accommodations weren’t quite what they expected.

The university increased the capacity of its residence halls in order to accommodate this year’s large freshman class. However, the move has left some students crammed into closer quarters but paying the same amount they would for a larger space.

“The bottom line is we’re making more room for students,” said Larry Bassow, assistant director for residence programs at Chico State.

Bassow said the university increased the capacity of three of its campus residence halls this year. Room was made for 120 additional students at University Village, located off Nord Avenue, by expanding the capacity of half of the dorms from four people to six people per room. Twelve rooms in Konkow Hall, located on the north end of campus, were converted from double to triple rooms, while 24 rooms in the nine-story Whitney Hall were expanded from singles to doubles.

When first-year student Maribel De Lacerda went to see a friend’s room in Whitney Hall, she said she was surprised to hear that she was living with another roommate in a room previously intended for a single occupant.

“When I walked into her room I said, ‘Cool, you have a bunk to yourself,'” said De Lacerda, who also lives in Whitney Hall. “And she looked at me straight-faced and said, ‘No, that’s the problem.'”

It’s something the university has dealt with for years. Students and parents arrive, only to find that the living arrangements are different from what they were shown during summer orientation.

The university has been expanding the capacity of residence halls since 1998 when several of the single rooms in University Village were changed to doubles. Since then, the entire building has been changed to doubles.

Bassow said the university doesn’t have many options until new student housing is built, which won’t happen until 2008 when Phase I of Chico State’s Master Plan begins. A new housing facility, set to be built right next to Whitney Hall where the student recreation center sits, will open 170 to 200 new spaces.

Bassow said in the meantime, the university addresses any concerns students may have about their living conditions.

“If they don’t like [the living situation], it’s our priority to move them,” he said.

Bassow said they’ve received complaints from parents requesting that the price be dropped since the students are getting less space for the money. It’s something the university is looking into, Bassow said.

Bassow said even though this year’s freshman class increased by 200 students, the university was able to accommodate all students looking to live in dorms.

He said the top priority is providing on-campus housing for those who want it.

“When you break it down, parents want to know their kids have housing,” Bassow said. “If we don’t have space, they might not come here.”