Some new Michigan State students to see overcrowded dorm rooms this fall, at least temporarily

·3 min read
South Hubbard Hall on the campus of Michigan State University.
South Hubbard Hall on the campus of Michigan State University.

EAST LANSING — Some new students at Michigan State University this fall could find themselves living in crowded dorm rooms.

MSU’s policy requiring students to live on-campus for their first two years will be reinstated this fall, mandating most freshman and sophomores to live in on-campus dorms. However, MSU is also anticipating a large incoming class of freshman and transfer students.

Hundreds of freshman or transfer students — about 7% of the incoming class  will find themselves as an extra roommate in rooms designed for fewer students. At MSU, either three students will bunk in dorm rooms that normally house just two students, or five will live in rooms designed for four students. This setup, known as transitional housing, will be in place until additional spaces open up in MSU’s dorms.

“We do have a strong incoming class and in order to accommodate the 98% of freshman students who live on campus, we do have some transitional housing plans,” said Kat Cooper, chief communications officer for MSU Residential and Hospitality Services.

Students who will be living in transitional housing will pay a discounted room rate. In those instances, Cooper said the full room rate will be split among either three or five roommates.

West Akers Hall, seen Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.
West Akers Hall, seen Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.

MSU first sent housing assignments to students in mid-July. At that time, about 20% of freshmen were assigned to transitional housing, Cooper said. She expects the number of students who will be living in the crowded rooms will continue to fall as the start of the fall semester on Aug. 31 approaches.

Additionally, MSU is limiting the number of upperclassmen allowed to live on campus, Cooper said.

MSU has not said how large the freshman class is this fall. But based on last year's record freshman class of 9,065 students, 7% of the incoming class would be more than 600 students.

Michael Tippy, a freshman from Ann Arbor, was among the students notified that he would be living with two other roommates in a traditionally two-person dorm room. Since then, housing has opened up and his third roommate was reassigned.

The idea of living in a crowded room initially annoyed and disappointed him, but he tried staying positive and the idea grew on him.

"I feel that living in a dorm will be much easier with one roommate," he said. "But I do think that having a third roommate would have been a fun college experience."

This isn’t the first year that MSU had to implement transitional housing. While she couldn’t recall the last time transitional housing was implemented, Cooper said “this has happened dozens and dozens of times in the history of Michigan State.” It hasn’t been implemented in recent years because of COVID-19, including the 2020-21 academic year when few students were living on-campus at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal is to have all students moved out of transitional housing and settled into two- or four-person rooms by the end of the fall semester, but Cooper said it is too hard to predict whether that will happen.

There could be a situation where all the female student rooms return to normal occupancy levels, while some male rooms remain over-assigned. Other students might choose to stay in the over-assigned rooms because they like their roommates or enjoy the cost savings, Cooper said.

Meanwhile, MSU will no longer be reserving dorm rooms for students who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate. With over-assigned rooms, it could be harder to isolate, which is why Cooper and MSU are encouraging students to have a plan.

While there aren’t any exemptions specifically for transitional housing, some students can seek exemptions to avoid living on-campus altogether. Those exemptions apply to students who turn 20 by the start of the semester, students living with parents or a legal guardian, or if they are married or a military veteran.

Contact Mark Johnson at (517) 377-1026 or majohnson2@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMarkJohnson.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Why some new Michigan State University students will find overcrowded dorm rooms