Rumors about housing often circulate around roomdraw time despite Residence Life Director Pamela McDowell's attempts to dismantle as many of them as possible through informational sessions in first year residence halls before spring break.
Residence Life has made at least one major change for next year by changing the price of single rooms, which will increase by $100. Some students have questioned the increase since the rooms significantly increased in price just last year. The cost of singles increased by one-third as a result of the increase in room and board. Singles increased in price in correlation with the rising cost of a double room.
For incoming first-year students, Residence Life sets aside spaces for 765 to 770 students. However, this is not a reflection of how many incoming first years there will be. The national deadline to commit to a school is May 1, and after that Residence Life will have a firmer idea of how many new students to expect.
This year Residence Life is implementing a new system for incoming first-year students; they now have the option to rank their top three choices online. A preference card will still be sent to each student's home, but now it will be easier for students to send in their choices. Because incoming first years do not need to make their final college decisions before they send in their preferences (they only need to be accepted to St. Olaf), McDowell and the Residence Life staff are not using these as the concrete numbers for next year.
Trends over the years show students going for particular rooms in different residence halls. "The seniors really decide where everyone else ends up since they have first choice," McDowell said.
Although there have been complaints over the higher price of singles, it does not seem to be affecting seniors putting pods together. "The majority of e-mails I receive are about pods," McDowell said.
Though many people express concern about the difficulty the rising price of single rooms may present in planning pods, last year none of the pods in Ytterboe consisted of all juniors. There has been a trend in the last couple of years indicating that people are willing to spend more money for a single room in an Ytterboe pod.
There is also a movement away from quad rooms in Rand, these rooms used to be much more in demand.
Residence Life has also made a change in summer housing this year. Last summer students staying on campus through the summer months were housed in Thorson. This year students staying on campus will live in Rand.
"Thorson has been for about three years now in the summer, McDowell said. Students move in from the day residence halls close and move out the day all residence halls re-open."
This summer, Facilities and Residence Life will paint Thorson and take care of other general maintenance in the building that could not be accomplished unless the hall was empty. Some general maintenance will be done to all the halls this year, but students should not expect to come back to any drastic changes.
"People might notice the maintenance work, for instance the water pressure will be better, but they probably wont think it's because we've been doing the maintenance," McDowell said.
There will be people in and out of every dorm in the summer, at different points, except for Ellingson and Mohn, which will stand empty.
As of April 7, McDowell sent notices out to the remaining 36 students who had not paid the $600 fee guaranteeing them a room for next year. At that point she said that Residence Life could not guarantee them housing for next year. Of the 36, she expects half of them probably will not be coming back, and the other half will not know when or where they will get placed in housing until July at the earliest.
At roomdraw time, McDowell expects to put 80-90 students on the waiting list for rooms. This is not due to lack of space, but to floors that have not yet been designated for a particular gender.
Roomdraw, however, as Pamela McDowell reminds students, is not like registration. If a student chooses one residence hall and then is unhappy, he or she cannot just switch to a new one.
"I don't dread roomdraw," McDowell said. "If students aren't happy with the room they choose, I just remind them that their residence hall is what they make it."