Due to a lack of available dorm rooms, 150 students occupied the lounges in Moody Towers at the beginning of the semester. The number of on-campus lounge dwellers has decreased since then, but it is now mid-semester and some students still live in the lounges.
The first day of school brought this "overflow" of students to the Towers. Many students with nowhere else to stay found themselves setting up makeshift home in the lounges of the Towers.
The Towers accept anyone who applies for a room there, in order to make sure there will be no vacancies at any time during the school year.
"In order for us to have both towers full, we have to take anyone who applies," said Alice Walker, a junior psychology-Spanish double major and a resident assistant at the Towers.
"We started at about five students per lounge, but since then the number has been reduced," she said.
Walker said, "We move people fast. Some students leave, some drop out, some get married or move off campus, and this opens rooms for the students that are living in the lounges."
Zandy Baker, the area coordinator for the Towers, estimated that 150 students occupied lounges at the commencement of the fall 1997 semester, but she added that "it's down to four."
Many students said they were upset with the situation, even those who were never forced to live in the lounges.
"We tell people ahead of time this is all we have," said Andy Blank, executive director of residential life and housing. "We did not let in more people than the tower held."
Most students understood they might not get a room at the Towers, he added, but many students said they did not have any other place to go.
"It was crowded with everyone in there. It was a really big inconvenience," said Michelle Owen, a freshman journalism major who lived with four other students in a lounge at the beginning of the semester. "I only had to live in the lounge for a week, but I have some friends that are still living there."
Martin Sewel, a freshman computer science major, said he never received any notification that the Towers might be filled beyond capacity. "I had no idea I was going to live in the lounge." Sewel said the lounge he occupied for two weeks had windows covered by paper and did not have a telephone. The crowded temporary room also had makeshift beds, he added.
"If the dorms are in such high demand, the services could be better," said Shiva Mohsenzadeh, a graduate law student. "Our dorms should compare to those of UT or A&M," she said.
Blank said Residential Life and Housing is working on a reimbursement policy for those students who have had to spend most or all of the fall semester occupying lounges.
"We are working on some type of a sliding-scale refund," said Blank. "For the people that had to stay in there the entire time, we will adjust their room rates."
Blank also said this semester's overflow of students in Moody Towers may reflect a need for the university to build additional dormitories on campus. "We are going to have some meetings in the near future regarding building projects."