Large incoming class may cause scarcity in campus housing

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In the wake of record-high freshman admissions numbers to UC Berkeley this year, the Units 1, 2, and 3 residence halls may see some student floor lounges turned into quads and some doubles turned into triples.

This year, 5,979 freshmen submitted a Statement of Intent to Register at UC Berkeley — an increase of 614, or 11.4 percent, over last year’s numbers, according to data released by the UC Office of the President. These numbers put next year’s freshman class on track to be the largest the campus has ever had.

While UC Berkeley has seen its fair share of housing reconfigurations to fit an increasing student population, the coming influx could be one of the biggest, said Marty Takimoto, director of marketing and communications for Residential and Student Service Programs.

“Over the past two to three years, we have averaged between 100 percent and 97 percent occupancy for all university housing,” Takimoto said. “For the upcoming fall, we’ll definitely start at more than 100 percent occupancy.”

In past years, floor lounges were used for temporary student housing to accommodate additional students at the beginning of the school year or while individual residence halls were closed for renovations.

RSSP currently anticipates about 50 more students than the current total occupancy, but according to Takimoto, that number will change moving in the fall, as some students receive late admissions offers — resulting in late housing applications — and some defer their enrollment during the summer. This makes it difficult for RSSP to accurately assess how many beds it will need.

Despite an increasing student population, campus housing guarantees have always been met for entering freshmen, transfer and extension students, Takimoto said.

“While we have additional students to house for the 2013-14 year, the numbers have not become unmanageable, and we anticipate being able to house them all comfortably and safely,” he said.

The growing student population may have also led to a spike in housing applications for private residence halls. Josh Ferrari, community manager at The Berk, one such residence, describes Berkeley as a late market, with potential tenants rushing to find housing around the end of July and early August. This year, however, the rush to grab spots began between May and June.

“There’s definitely an increase of people getting their housing secured early,” Ferrari said. He described both private dorms his company manages, The Berk and Wesley House, as being near capacity.

Students who applied for housing on time have been receiving their permanent housing contracts, while those who applied late will most likely be placed into overflow housing. According to Takimoto, RSSP is working to fill existing triples first in order to make lounge quads a last resort.

Ilaf Esuf, an incoming freshman who plans to live in either Unit 1, 2 or 3, said she would be disappointed if there were any last-minute changes but that her housing situation is secondary to the overall UC Berkeley experience.

“I care more about going to Cal than I do about my living arrangements,” she said in a Facebook message.

Contact Andrew Dickey at [email protected]