By Lauren Rex
This academic school year, universities across the nation, as gathered from news sources such as Forbes, have been faced with abnormally large freshman classes, and the University of Findlay is no different. Shari Hellman, UF director of housing states that there was roughly 1,204 on campus students during the 2021 school year, jumping to nearly 1,371 this year.
Having one of the largest on campus classes to date at Findlay this year, student housing was the first thing to be affected by the increase in students.
Typically, first time freshman are placed into dorms. This is done to help the new students connect and make new friends. On top of this, Hellman says that it helps build community and provide support. First-time freshman, Natalie Newton, was placed into an upperclassmen house. She says she feels she missed out on exactly this.
“(I missed) not being able to meet new people in a dorm,” Newton said.
But Newton loves not having communal bathrooms, as well as having a large kitchen. She says the only downside is the lack of connections she was able to make from living in an isolated house, versus if she was living in a dorm with many more girls.
Many returning students request to live in places such as townhouses and apartments, and Hellman confirms that housing does its best to accommodate this. But with the rise in numbers, many upperclassmen in these on-campus housing options, are now living with freshman.
Kara Pruett, a current sophomore, feels uneasy with this arrangement because as an upperclassman, living with a freshman seemed to be unheard of.
“I’ve never met a freshman placed into upperclassmen housing.” Pruett said.
Due to Findlay’s small and supportive community, many students have been able to adjust to this new arrangement.
Hellman said there were discussions as early as the 2022 spring semester on how the University was going to house so many students. Myers Hall, which was once used as offices, was transformed back into student housing. Findlay staff “vacated” the floor and “extensive renovations” were underway to house students again. On top of this addition of rooms, several offices that were in houses were moved and renovated back into student housing.
Some houses that were labeled as COVID isolation houses in the previous year were turned back into student housing his year. These houses were located throughout campus, and some do still exist, but not as many as last year.
A current resident director, Sarah Zimmerli, says two resident assistants, or RAs, were added to the resident life team to assist with more students to look after this semester. The more students to looks after, the harder the job of RDs and RAs become.
“I enjoy seeing our campus full and active,” Zimmerli said.
Resident life has had to make changes and plan differently for activities this year. To ensure all students can participate in their activities, Zimmerli states that they have to plan for bigger turnout, therefore having to save more money and supplies. However, Zimmerli claims that this does not make her job any harder than it was in prior years, she just must set aside more time for her duties. These duties include, but are not limited to, room inspections and on campus emergencies that involve her.
Both Hellman and Zimmerli think the increase of on-campus students was due to the decline in COVID cases in general. Hellman stated that many students went virtual, and some even took gap years, when COVID-19 was still a large threat. She believes that since cases are dwindling, many students are now either returning to college, or coming in person for the first time.
While all students did not get their first choice for housing, with all the changes made UF was able to house everyone who requested housing, according to Hellman.