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St. Ann freshmen feeling the squeeze

By Shawn Klocek
On September 25, 2008

Students searching for a lounge on the fifth floor of St. Ann Hall shouldn't look too hard - there isn't one. The 1,319 Duquesne University freshmen who needed housing this fall forced the Office of Residence Life to turn 13 former student lounges into quad and triple dorm rooms.

Freshman journalism major Chris Market is one student who lives in a converted lounge in St. Ann Hall.

"We were actually scared the first week," Market said. "We thought they were going to kick us out and put us in different rooms."

Market said it was rumored that the quad rooms were going to be turned back into lounges after the University received complaints from parents. The rumors never substantiated, to the relief of Market and two of his roommates, freshman journalism major Rob Jones and freshman business major Vince Cocco.

The three roommates had planned on moving into a triple room, which costs each student $462 less than staying in a double room. The three were surprised when they received letters from the University a few weeks before class, listing a fourth roommate on their housing agreement forms.

They said they have plenty of room and like having a bigger dorm room.

"I think if you ask around the floor, no one really cares that [the lounge] is gone," Jones said.

Market added a different view.

"I'd be a little uncomfortable if I had to live with three people I didn't know," Market said.

Director of Residence Life Sharon Oelschlager agreed that the push for extra space has created little complaint from students.

"Is it ideal? - no," Oelschlager said. "Overall, students have responded very well."

Residence Life realized that it would have to accommodate for a large population of incoming freshmen this past April. To ensure housing for freshmen, Residence Life created a waiting list for juniors and seniors looking to live on campus.

Though some of the upperclassmen on the waiting list were able to obtain housing, Oelschlager said approximately 30 students had to live off campus.

In addition to the lounges in St. Ann Hall, Residence Life also temporarily opened up rooms on the fourth floor of Assumption Hall, typically used for guest housing, and turned lounges on the third floor into dorms.

After moving some freshmen into Towers Living and Learning Center and finishing renovations on some of the small kitchens to make them dorm rooms, the lounges were returned to their former states.

Shannon Owens, assistant director of Residence Life, said the changes were stressful but necessary.

"It was a matter of getting everybody where they needed to be, not just freshmen," Owens said. She added that freshmen did not move onto any of the Greek Life floors in Towers.

St. Ann Hall still has a recreation room on its bottom floor, a lounge in both of the wings, and the reception lobby for students to congregate in.

Market, Jones and Cocco said their floor is no less social without the lounge. It is close-knit; they get dinner together and gather at Market's room to watch football games.

"We're all in here every night anyway," Cocco said.

With the University striving to expand, Oelschlager said there has been talk of increasing campus housing, though no definite plans have been made.

"[Additional housing] is not cheap, but I think the administration is very, very aware that we've exhausted our resources here," Oelschlager said.

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