A crowded campus, vacant spaces and a tight budget have caused Keene State College’s Residential Life to make some changes in student placement in the residence halls around campus.
With Randall Hall closing at the end of last year, Monadnock Hall was believed to have been met with the same fate, but an unexpected spike in incoming students before the beginning of this academic year forced Residential Life to reopen the first-year housing facility.
Initially, the unexpected surplus was expected to fill up all 113 spots in the building when housing assignments came through in July and August.
However, as the semester went on, the number of first-year students attending KSC dropped, and in some cases, the school was the last to know according to Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life Kent Drake-Deese.
“A lot of times, they (students) don’t tell us,” Drake-Deese said.
Now, there are empty rooms across the Keene State campus in buildings such as the LLC and Monadnock and in a few of the Owls nests, but it’s likely they won’t be filled this year.
If Residential Life employees wanted to do that, they would have to add an extra bed to dorm rooms and move students into the available rooms scattered around campus.
But adding an extra bed is something Drake-Deese said that he and his staff are trying to avoid.
He added that they have made many dorm rooms that had once been triple rooms into double rooms, such as those in Holloway and Pondside, as they were supposed to be. “That’s how they were designed…” Drake Deese said.
Drake-Deese explained that on other campuses the number of rooms with three beds usually makes up about 12 to 15 percent of the total number of rooms.
Drake Deese said that until recently, about 66 percent of the rooms were triples.
Deese said that Monadnock costs around $200,000 a year to operate, and while he has entertained the idea of having students in Monadnock move out into other rooms across campus and close its doors, he said the hassle it would cause to the students currently living there is not worth the money that could be saved.
“Yeah, we could save some money, but we would really be inconveniencing a lot of people,” Drake-Deese said.
Current Monadnock resident and first-year student Ryan Connelly said that his current living situation is not ideal. “I think it’s not as nice as the other dorms to be honest. I feel like they sort of threw us in this dorm for a reason,” Connelly said.
Still, like Drake-Deese, Connelly said he would prefer to wait this year out and be placed somewhere else next year.
“Now that I’m already there and I know people from this dorm, I wouldn’t want to move halfway through the semester, but [I] definitely would want a better housing situation for next year,” Connelly said.
The plan for next year, according to Drake-Deese, is to close down the building like they had planned originally and use $200,000 to fill a $600 to $900 thousand dollar gap left by the recent budget cuts.
“Our budget is pretty much slashed,” Drake-Deese said. Once the hall closes, Drake-Deese said that it will eventually be torn down, but in the meantime, he said that there is a possibility that it will be converted into Greek Life housing.
KSC Interfraternity President Austen Leone said the he participated in discussions with Drake-Deese about moving the majority of Greek Life into Monadnock for the 2018-2019 academic year, he said that as long as nothing changes on the college’s end, that plan will be carried out.
“We’d hope that it would help build community and really help people get to know each other better,” Leone said.
Until then, Monadnock’s doors will remain open for the year.
Jacob Barrett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org