Housing at Wellesley College is tight this semester. Interim Dean of Students Adele Wolfson recently sent out an email to the student body informing them that although every student has been housed, the College is currently at full capacity. In her email, Wolfson explained that students requesting room swaps or medical housing accommodation will have to wait and see what space becomes available. She cited the unusually small size of the Class of 2015 compared to the normal size of the incoming Class of 2019 as one of the reasons for the current housing crunch.
Another factor that plays a part in the housing problem is the number of students studying abroad this year. The number of students abroad this past fall was up by 33 from last fall, but there are 31 fewer students abroad this spring than there were last spring.
However, despite these differences, the numbers are not far off the trends of previous years, said Jennifer Thomas-Starck, Director of the Office of International Study.
“Our fall numbers were higher than usual, and overall numbers were slightly down from last year’s high but in line with recent years… I can’t really explain the shift. We have looked at data from evaluations that points to factors such as academic reasons, weather, athletics, social factors, career or internship planning as drivers for selecting one semester over the other, but there is nothing that really explains the shift from year to year,” she said.
Since housing is so tight, juniors who are currently returning from semesters abroad are being put in double or triple rooms instead of single rooms.
One anonymous junior says that she is happy she was given housing this semester, given how tight it has been, although she didn’t get to live in the dormitory she had wanted. However, she hopes the problem will be resolved by her senior year so that she’ll get to live in a single room.
“I am now pretty happy with my living situation. Of course, it would be nice to have a single in another dorm on campus. I’m living on East Side and wanted to live in the Quad, but I certainly think I lucked out with the situation… I just hope that there isn’t such tight housing when applying for housing next semester. I would really like to be in a single in my senior year,” she said.
Sophomores planning on studying abroad during their junior year are worried about what housing will be like for them during their semester here at Wellesley.
“Although I was not initially worried about housing when returning from studying abroad next year, I am now a bit concerned that I would be forced into a triple or double.
Assuming Admissions admits as many students into next year’s first-year class as they did into this one, we will run into the same housing squish as we did this year,” Vanessa Kelley ’18 said.
However, it’s hard to predict what housing will be like at Wellesley from semester to semester. Especially at a smaller college like Wellesley, slight shifts in class size or the number of students abroad do make a difference, Thomas-Starck said.
“I think the challenge at a small institution is that 20 additional students on or off campus has an impact,” Thomas-Starck said.
Although housing has not often been a problem in recent years, it does indicate that the administration may need to better plan ahead, Eleanor Zagoren ’18 said.
“I think there’s some degree of a lack of administrative oversight going on. Shoving students into doubles and triples is only a temporary fix… If Wellesley is going keep accepting larger classes and having students on campus for all four years, something is going to have to be done to accommodate them,” Zagoren said.
The fact that housing is tight this semester is not a cause for concern, said Wolfson. This semester’s housing crunch is the result of slight shifts in class size and the number of students abroad, and the administration is prepared to ensure it doesn’t occur again.
“Our goal is always to house all students. We have an Enrollment Management Committee that looks at numbers and trends multiple times each year, but some of the factors… —students studying abroad or not, going on leave or not—can’t be predicted precisely. The Committee will examine the trends this semester and try to account for them, as much as we can, in future semesters,” Wolfson said.
Photo Courtesy of Julie Monaco ’19