Easy to print version

Life is Suite
A record freshman class highlights the need for new dorms
by Nancie Stone '70

It's happened at UNH and other schools across the country many times: the number of admitted students who decide to enroll exceeds expectations. This year, UNH aimed for a freshman class of 2,700, but wound up with a record 3,070. In many ways, this is a good problem--more well-qualified students are applying. When it comes to campus housing, however, a bumper crop of freshmen can be too much of a good thing.

In an unusual move to minimize overcrowding this fall, UNH housing offered financial incentives to encourage students to move off campus or take an extra roommate. The perks included a free parking permit and a credit of up to $700 toward books or dining hall meals. That significantly alleviated the pressure on dormitories, although it didn't eliminate the need to make temporary "build-ups" in lounges and turn some doubles into triples.

It's not an ideal situation, notes Scott Chesney, director of residential life, but it is short-lived. By second semester, plenty of spaces will have opened up. And inevitably, he says, "there are always some who bond with their hallmates and don't want to move."

Students don't want to feel like they're "out in Siberia," says Chesney. With any luck, the residents of three new dormitories under construction on the southwestern outskirts of the university's core campus will feel just the opposite--well integrated into their own neighborhood as well as the academic life of the university as a whole. The first two dorms will open in fall of 2007, easing the recent housing squeeze a bit, and the third will open in the fall of 2008, bringing the total number of new beds to 727.

On the exterior, the new dorms will have a traditional look, but inside, the layout will be anything but. Two-thirds of the bedrooms will be clustered into suites, each with its own bathroom, shared by four or six upperclassmen. At the ends of each floor, single and double rooms will open onto a lounge. The third dormitory will include not only a small recreation center with exercise equipment but also two classrooms. The opportunity to live in a suite, work out and take a class all in the same building, Chesney hopes, will make students think, "That would be a cool place to live."

Return to UNH Magazine Campus Currents