Not quite what they had expected

Residence hall overflow forces a second year of students staying in lounges

Sunny Astorga

Staff Writer

New and returning residents at the University of Houston have spent the past days lifting boxes and fighting for carts.

However, if adjusting to one new roommate and his or her habits were not enough, many Moody Towers residents have five new roommates with which to become acquainted.

All 32 lounges in the North and South Towers are currently not the quiet relief from a noisy roommate or the noisy escape from a roommate with no television or radio, but rather the temporary living quarters for 110 students.

According to Sean Pierce, Moody Towers assistant area coordinator, students' having to live in lounges instead of an assigned room could be due to a combination of factors.

"They could have turned in their agreement late or didn't pay their deposit on time. Some just showed up (the day of check-in) and said 'Hi, I want to live on campus.'"

Sandy Coltharp, assistant director of Residential Life and Housing, said that in order to avoid any "surprises," students were notified that they would be placed into overflow.

However, for April Jossey, a freshman psychology major, it did come as a surprise on Thursday, the first day of check-in for fall residents, when she was told she would be living in a lounge for two weeks to a month.

Jossey said she did not know of an application deadline, and while living in the lounge is temporary, it is still "uncomfortable."

"I was upset," Jossey said. "It's crowded in here. I wanted to get moved into my room so I could get organized, plus I brought all my stuff and have no room for it."

As a result, Jossey temporarily resides in a North Tower lounge with six beds. It is equivalent to two double rooms, but she shares the room with four other females.

Clothes, radios and televisions are organized closely around beds. The lounges' eight windows are covered with dark paper.

Chelia Duru, sophomore biology major, said she refuses to change in the room.

"This is nothing, just paper," Duru said. "I go change in the restroom."

The question of safety and trusting five new faces, each with a key to the room, also concerns Duru. "You pray that nobody takes your stuff. I left my TV with a friend," she said.

A limit on the number of applications accepted could help avoid taking on more students than housing can accommodate, Duru said.

However, Coltharp said a cutoff would turn away students before accounting for no-shows or available space after the semester begins.

"We have a long history of having a certain number of no-shows, so we can estimate or guesstimate that we will have space for a number of people. We don't want to turn away students who we will be able to offer space to in a few days," Coltharp said.

Monday, the RLH staff began the process of phoning no-shows.

"We will look who has checked in, find those who are still registered, track them down, see if they are still coming and start moving people out (of lounges)," Pierce said.

Coltharp said common reasons for no-shows are students waiting to get accepted to UH and those deciding between universities. She also said students leave after the 12th class day, the last day to drop a course and receive a refund.

While those in lounges may get rooms, another 71 students are on a waiting list.

"They're just waiting, hoping we have space," Coltharp said. "Our first priority will be to get the people out of the lounges."

This is the second year the Towers has faced overflow, and Coltharp admits that additional housing may alleviate future problems.

"It's something we are talking about and exploring options," Coltharp said. "As soon as the university has enough proof it's a good thing to do, we'll be moving on it."

Managing Editor Lisa M. Chmiola

contributed to this story.

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