One month into the 2015-2016 academic year at Keene State College and students are finally getting into the swing of things. Classes are underway, schedules are set in stone and some students are signing leases for next year.
It’s a craze that seems to be picking up speed. Students are sorting out next year’s living arrangements earlier than ever before, and the main cause seems to be stress.
Off-campus KSC student Bobby Peterson said that he waited until March of last school year to sign his lease.
“It was relatively late but I still knew plenty of people who waited until April and were fine,” Peterson explained.
Peterson, who has his apartment shown to next year’s prospective renters about once a week, said he has been feeling pressure to start the search.
“There’s been such a high number of showings already this year, plus nine units in my landlord’s other properties already have leases signed for next year,” Peterson said, “It looks like a huge number of people are already getting a head start on housing.”
In spite of this, Peterson hasn’t really begun to look into housing for next year.
“I’m not really sure where I want to live next year. I might stay off campus,
but nothing’s finalized yet,” Peterson explained. “It might be hard to get a spot I want on campus, though, with the new policies they have allowing for students to reserve and remain in their current housing.”
The new policy Peterson referred to is called “squatting,” put in place by the KSC Residential Life Office.
Associate Dean of Students Kent Drake-Deese described squatting as “the ability to stay where you are if you like your housing assignment for any given year.”
Drake-Deese added, “It’s an effort to give students less stress about the housing lottery.”
In past years, students have had to wait until March or April to find out where they’re placed next year, or if they’ll even be on campus. The idea of squatting, as well as an earlier lottery for upperclassmen, will eliminate this wait.
“We know students have already signed leases, and many are already thinking about and looking into next year’s housing. This will just allow them to have a better idea much earlier, and allow them to stop worrying much sooner.”
Assistant Director for Residential Life and Housing Operations Debra Barrett explained the specifics of the policy further.
“In November, information will go out for students who chose not to, or were unable to, squat and would still like to live on campus. That lottery will be held in December,” Barrett explained.
Barrett continued, “Squatting applications will be available to many of the upperclassmen students hopefully in the next week or so.”
Barrett explained that some on-campus housing options are “squattable,” and some are not. An email went out to residents of these halls distinguishing which is which.
The usual upperclassmen housing options will be available, like the Pondsides, Owl’s Nests, Bushnell, Butler Court, as well as Fiske Hall and Holloway Hall, which have been exclusively first-year housing for years. This will allow almost twice as many on-campus housing options than there have been in the past.
“It’s easier to plan ahead,” Barrett said referring to squatting, and the earlier housing lotteries, “If students know that they’re going to be on campus, they know that they’re going to need a meal plan, etcetera. Financially it just makes sense for them to have an idea of what they’re facing as well.”
Drake-Deese said he hopes that the squatting policy will encourage some upperclassmen to stay on campus.
“We know that a lot of them leave due to the stress and anxiety of not knowing what’s going to happen with the housing lottery,” Drake-Deese said.
“They feel the pressure, and we want to make sure students are aware of their options,” Barrett said.
KSC sophomore Holly Geno said that she is seriously considering squatting in her current housing at Butler Court for the next academic year.
“I think it’s a really great concept,” Geno said, “It’s really convenient and takes away a lot of stress for upperclassmen who aren’t guaranteed housing for their junior and senior years.”
Living in a six-person suite in Butler is an ideal arrangement for Geno. “I love all my roommates. It’s only been a month but I feel like it’s a really great, respectful group of people and I can really see this all working out in the long run,” she said.
As Barrett and Drake-Deese explained, the goal is to ease students’ anxieties about the upcoming year.
“I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I got the email. I’m very excited about this new policy,” Geno said.
Jill can be contacted at email@example.com