DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Yavapai Residence Hall residents Morgan Koenig, a geological sciences Sophomore, and roommate Jandy Barajas, a Spanish literature and chemistry Sophomore, will not be allowed to return to the dorms during the fall semester. Only 1,000 sophomores and no juniors or seniors will be admitted to the dorms in order to make more room for incoming freshmen.
New students will no longer be guaranteed dorm housing, returning students cannot stay longer than four semesters
The close-knit residence hall community played a determining factor in sophomore Jacob Pitts' decision to attend UA over Brandeis University.
Pitts, a computer science and chemical engineering sophomore who lives in Yavapai Residence Hall, had planned to live in the dorms for the next five years as he completed his studies.
But in mid-December, he received a letter detailing changes in housing policies that will prevent him from returning to the dorms next semester.
The new policies come in the wake of a major housing shortage on the University of Arizona campus last semester that forced hundreds of students to live in hotels and study lounges.
Starting next year, only freshmen and sophomores will be living in the dorms. Residents who have lived for four semesters or more in a residence hall will not be able to return.
Residence Life has eliminated guaranteed housing for new students. In the past, new students who applied before May 1 were guaranteed a space in the dorms. Under the new policy, housing distribution will be done on a first-come, first-serve basis.
About 50 percent of students currently living in the dorms can return next semester, which would limit the total number of returning students in residence halls to 1,000.
"This decision was kind of backed into in a way that literally we did everything else we could do before making this decision," said Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life, who drafted the letter. "It just wasn't enough, and we were just forced to make this decision."
Resident assistants, Residence Hall Association elected officers, disabled students, those under 18 years old and those with academic scholarships will be given priority when returning to the dorms.
Residence Life plans to accommodate 950 more students over the next two to three years by acquiring greek houses and building several new dorms.
But for the time being, some UA students find themselves in a bind because they had planned on returning to the dorms.
"I was really upset," said civil engineering junior Katie Otteson, when she heard about the limit on returning students.
She posted a piece of paper, written in blue marker, stating "God bless this institution for being so merciful and kicking me out of the dorms" on her dorm room door in Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall.
Otteson is considering transferring to Arizona State University so she can live at home and ride the bus to school. She said she would move into an apartment but does not have a car.
Sara Batt, a pre-business freshman living in Coronado Residence Hall, plans on moving into a sorority house next year and said she does not feel affected by the cap.
"Dorms are more of a freshman experience, so it doesn't really bother me," she said.
Still, Pitt and the majority of residents at Yavapai Residence Hall, which has one of the highest returning student rates at 60 percent, are extremely concerned. The dorm is known for its strong friendships between lower and upperclassmen.
"They feel that their community is under attack," said RHA President Ben Bush and four-year resident of Yavapai. "What really gets under their skin is that they have so little control over it. That's the main reason they feel betrayed."
Bush said residents accept that the university has a housing shortage, but they do not agree with the four-semester limit.
"They have created a synergy among themselves, they study together, use the campus at all hours, use each other for resources," said Pitt's mother, Judith Brown, who lived on campus during all her college years. "It's the college experience."