Higher Retention Rate Causes Challenges for Housing

In Community, Latest News by Jenna Miller

The overflow of student in the dorms this year suggests that this is the biggest freshman class ever, but Molly Peterson, assistant director to student housing, argues otherwise.

Although there is an overflow of students in the freshmen residence halls, the reasons do not include an excess of freshman students.

Every year Petersen looks at the data from past years to predict how housing will work for the following academic calendar. She looks at how many sophomores come back to stay on campus, how many freshman commute and the rate of attrition and retention.

Attrition is the percentage of students that do not come back, while retention is the percentage of students that do come back for another year, Petersen explained.

“Different year than any year before,” Petersen said.

In the past, PLNU had about 20-25 incoming freshman males who live at home. Now, only four students commute. Last year, the larger half of the sixth floor on Nease residence hall was filled with freshman girls, but for the time being, that half hosts only sophomore girls.

In addition, PLNU typically has a retention rate in the high 80’s, but this year it is in the low 90’s, Petersen said. This caused an overflow situation in the freshman residence halls Hendricks and Klassen, where students are staying in the third floor lounges of each hall. Those lounges were set up to hold no more than eight students.

“Had the statistics been what they always have been, we wouldn’t have been where we’re at,” Petersen said.

The students staying in the lounges were notified a week before moving in. Petersen welcomed questions from families and assured them that the housing staff would do their best to find suitable rooms by the second semester at the latest.

“I tried to wait as long as possible in hopes that things would open up and I would not have to put them in an overflow situation,” Petersen said. “But they did know before they got here.”

Christian Alfaro is a freshman business finance major living in the Klassen lounge. He is one of seven living in the lounge after one of the others dropped out. He complains about the lack of storage space and about the room being inconvenient to study.

But the room is located in a busy area, and that is good for social interaction, Alfaro said.

The overflow situation has been detrimental for groups such as the Alpha. Avery Avina, a sophomore applied health major, was leading the Alpha group for Hendricks lounge and the two Klassen quad rooms. But the number of girls participating in the group quickly went from eight to three, and that affected the group.

“We felt really bad for the girls just because they weren’t getting that sense of community,” Avina said.

According to Petersen, with special circumstances like this year, the only thing to do is correct the rumor and eventually move the freshmen living in the overflow situations to normal rooms.

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