Temporary housing poses numerous challenges

Residents of Callahan Hall and future residents of the soon-to-be-completed Lakeside Terrace residence hall have found themselves a little too close for comfort in these first weeks of the fall semester.

The renovation of Lakeside Terrace —formerly the Lakeside Place nursing home, purchased by the university in the 2013 spring semester—has temporarily placed approximately 130 NKU students in Lakeside Terrace, with residents in Callahan Hall, and with resident assistants and peer mentors in the residential village.

Housing intentionally overbooks every year, in anticipation of students either not moving in or moving out within the first few weeks of the semester, explained Arnie Slaughter, director of University Housing.

“In previous years, a team has worked aggressively to identify spaces that become available due to individuals just not showing up or individuals who go through the first week of classes, and they don’t become registered,” Slaughter said. This group also includes students who may decide to leave NKU and return another semester, Slaughter explained.

Slaughter said that things were no different this year.

“This year, we were extremely aggressive in terms of identifying…individuals who aren’t registered for classes beginning this summer,” Slaughter said. “We worked very closely with the orientation office to identify first-year students primarily who did not show up for their orientation.”

Students who don’t attend their orientation are more likely not to move-in, said Slaughter. Housing can then cancel the assignments for students who say they are not moving in.

Managing reduced living space

Where most college students might find it a challenge to manage life and space in a two-person room, students in temporary housing situations have found themselves living three to a standard double room alongside permanent residents.

“I had all my stuff laid out, and half of it is still in my living room,” said McCaela Schreiner, a freshman business major and temporary Callahan Hall resident. “I didn’t know the size of the room or the layout….[Housing] told me what building, and that was it.”

Schreiner knew neither the names nor the number of roommates with whom she would live with until she moved in.

Finding adequate space can present a challenge for both permanent and temporary residents.

In some rooms in Callahan, two desks and only one four-drawer dresser are provided for the presumed two residents. Adding a third roommate to the equation can put additional strain on all students involved.

“I found out everything when I got here,” said Michael Schulte, an upperclassman geology major and temporary resident of Callahan Hall. Out of necessity, he fashioned a makeshift desk from a folding chair and the top of the bookshelf brought from home by one of his roommates.

“I have two suitcases…and my stuff is kind of erupted and pooled around them,” Schulte said.

He keeps a third full suitcase stashed away under his bed, he said, to conserve space.

Resident life and temporary living arrangements

Some students, both permanent and temporary residents, have concerns beyond the spatial strain. Many of the residents in temporary housing assignments are freshmen.

The first few weeks of college are often formative in a freshman student’s social and academic lives, said Walter L. Wallace, an educator and executive director of the Globabl Logistics RoundTable for the Robinson College of Business at George State University.

Wallace, in his American Journal of Sociology publication entitled “Institutional and Life-Cycle Socialization of College Freshmen,” stated that “freshmen are quickly socialized into the prevailing college-student culture” within the “total institution” of on-campus life.

Without a permanent housing placement from the start of the year, some temporary residents could miss valuable opportunities to form friendships with fellow hall residents and set down roots in the first college residence hall they experience, Wallace said.

Navigating the challenges

“There can certainly be some challenges with being an individual in a temporary assignment. Just some of the traditional challenges of not being able to set up your new home immediately,” Slaughter said.

One of the ways that housing tries to alleviate these pressures is by placing residents in temporary assignments where they believe that permanent spaces will open up, such as Callahan Hall, which is the university’s most densely-populated residence hall, according to Slaughter.

“We really try our best to try to keep [these students] in those communities [where they’ve been placed temporarily,] since they have established that rapport with their floormates or resident assistants, or just the community in general,” Slaughter said.
Some students, such as Schreiner, feel that housing’s efforts to integrate these students into residence life have been successful.

“I’m not really afraid of moving to another dorm,” Schreiner said. “The only thing I’m afraid of is moving myself…. When I first applied [for housing], I didn’t even list Callahan for an option because I didn’t want to be off-campus. But now that I’m here, I love it.”

Schreiner, who said she was originally going to be temporarily placed in Lakeside Terrace, plans to request a housing change for permanent residence in Callahan Hall. She is unsure of her future permanent residence hall assignment.