By Hannah Neumann
With a record breaking class, more than 3,600 college-bound students chose to call Baylor University home this fall, but there wasn’t exactly enough room for all of them.
Before the semester began, upperclassmen were asked to make room for the incoming freshman class by ending room contracts and some freshman were placed in expanded occupancy spaces.
Because Baylor requires freshmen to live on campus, between the large class and approximately 2,000 upper-division students moving into dormitories and university-owned apartments, housing quickly filled to 102 percent capacity. Ryan Cohenour, associate director for housing administration, said the overflow is something the school deals with on some level every year.
“We call it our expanded occupancy,” he said. “Every year, we open at greater than 100 percent of our standard capacity with our expanded capacity being the part that pushes us over.”
Cohenour said there are a number of things the school does to meet the students’ housing needs in times of overpopulation.
“We have a couple of different styles,” he said. “There have been a couple of small lounges that have been converted over into rooms on a temporary basis, some students are with community leaders in their rooms with them and this year, the newest was the study lounges that were converted over to be expanded housing.”
Houston sophomore Sarah Johnston, a community leader for Heritage House, the Fine Arts Living Learning Community, said she has a freshman roommate because of these arrangements. Johnston said while she sees how the situation isn’t ideal or conventional, the positives outweigh the negatives.
“The biggest benefit is it allows more people to come to Baylor, because for me, Baylor is my dream school and I know I would take rooming with anyone, anywhere over not being able to come,” she said.
Cohenour said while this is not a new concept for Baylor and even nationally it is a consistent operation that all universities have within their housing systems, this year was on a greater scale than what the university has experienced in the past.
“This year was greater than normal with our freshman numbers being about 400 more than usual,” he said. “In the summer, we offered releases for our returning students to break their contract to create enough space that could house these first year students. So while it is more than what we are used to, with those releases, our numbers came in line with what our capacity could hold.”
Cohenour said the school has been working to ensure that the next freshman class size will decrease to mirror previous years; something that the Lariat reported on in August.
“Our board of regents and administration have outlined our incoming class goal for 2015 to be the same size as the past several years,” said Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for Baylor media communication. “For fall 2015, around 3,200 freshmen and 450 transfers. That has been our approximate goal for the past four-plus years. The growth this year will not change our enrollment goal in the future, and the university’s size, as outlined in Pro Futuris, is to remain the same in terms of total undergraduate enrollment.”
Cohenour said it is a true testament to Baylor that they were able to house freshmen in time.
“As we continue to become a national entity, this will become a bigger and bigger problem, but in a good way,” he said. “I think this was just an outcome of Baylor standing out from the crowd.”