Some freshmen in Purdue's record-breaking incoming class were informed in a Thursday email that despite meeting the housing deadline, they will be placed into "reconfigured" housing space, outside of the traditional dorms.
The Exponent obtained the email from an incoming freshman on Monday.
"Purdue University will welcome its largest incoming class in history this fall and the demand for on-campus housing is high," the UR email reads. "So high, in fact, that we have entered into master-lease agreements with nearby apartment communities that meet our housing standards. This is not new for University Residences. We have entered into these agreements in the past and they have been successful for students.
"In addition, we have reconfigured spaces within our residence halls (like study areas, for example) into student rooms," it continued. "These spaces have the same security measures, furniture, and amenities of our traditional student rooms."
Unlike previous years, those placed in reconfigured housing or apartments will be given some choice in where they will be placed. The automated email also included a survey. Due to the room/apartment types varying by style and location, UR asked students to rank their preferences before they are manually assigned to a space.
According to the UR email, final housing assignments will be sent out to the students on July 23.
In addition to the reconfigured spaces, auxiliary housing will be used again, but is expected to only be for about 50 students on a temporary basis. Auxiliary housing includes spaces where other areas in residence halls have been converted into rooms, or where additional furniture has been added to existing rooms.
Most students are expected to be reassigned by October Break, or at the latest by semester break, according to an auxiliary housing website sent by Purdue spokesperson Tim Doty. University Residences employs a housing transition coordinator for the students initially assigned to limited term auxiliary housing.
"Based on availability, some students may begin the semester in temporary limited term auxiliary housing but will receive a permanent assignment as soon as one is available," the auxiliary housing website says. "It is anticipated that about 50 students may begin in limited term housing. University Residences staff will assist students in moving their personal belongings to the new space."
More than 120 students were placed in Purdue temporary housing in 2018, followed by fewer than 60 students living in auxiliary spaces in 2019, according to previous Exponent reporting.
The limited term auxiliary room rate is set at University Residence’s lowest double room rate. However, once the student moves to a permanent space, their housing rate will be adjusted accordingly, per the auxiliary housing website.
Olive Marangoni is one of the incoming freshman that will be placed into auxiliary housing. She shared some information that she received about the temporary housing situation from the University Residences office on a freshman information page.
"Triples and quads will be in Wiley, Cary, Tarkington, Shreve, and Meredith," UR reportedly told Marangoni in a phone call. "Quad pluses will be in some of those halls, but also in Purdue Village, 414 N. Russell, and Waldron.
"The quads are more expensive because they’re in a newer building/in a better location on campus," Marangoni said. "The quad pluses will be for <10 people, individual 'dorms' with divider walls."
Marangoni, who will be in first-year engineering in the fall, responded to a private message Monday, giving more insight into the survey.
"The survey asked us to rank how we’d prefer to be placed, between apartments in certain areas outside campus (East, Southeast, Northwest) and the different types of reconfigured student rooms – a triple, quad, or quad plus (quad plus being like 9 people in one room)," she said.
The reconfigured and auxiliary housing options given to the students were as follows:
- $2,446-$3,670 per year for Central Campus Triple (Reconfigured Space in Residence Hall)
- $3,646-$4,092 per year for Central Campus Quadruple (Reconfigured Space in Residence Hall)
- $2,446-$3,646 per year for Central Campus Quadruple Plus (<10 occupants in large Residence Hall space)
- $6,734-$7,638 per year for Northwest Campus Apartment (Master Leased Property)
- $7,790 per year for Southeast Campus Apartment (Master Leased Property)
- $7,782-$9,134 per year for East Campus Apartment (Master Leased Property)
The number of students who would be in one of these reconfigured housing spaces may be as high as 2,500 students, according to concerned parents and freshmen online.
Doty has not yet confirmed the 2,500 number, but said, "I believe it’s a little lower than that."
A letter sent under the alias "The parents of the 2,500" said their main concern was for the safety of the students who, despite signing their housing contract on time, may end up in housing "below a minimum threshold of quality and safety."
“The problem is simply one of not preparing adequately, knowing those challenges are on the table," the letter read, "as well as a problem of depth and exponentially, and lastly, withholding this massive oversight from the students and parents until after they are able to alter their college plans.”
The anonymous email address didn't immediately respond for further comment.
A Purdue News release said the incoming freshman class includes more than 10,000 students, topping last fall's record-breaking class by more than 1,200.
According to the Auxiliary Housing page on the University Residences website, all students who signed housing contract by May 5 are guaranteed some type of living space through University Residences.
“Due to the continued popularity of living on campus with returning students and a large freshman class, we utilize auxiliary and limited term housing spaces,” the website says. “To meet housing commitments, University Residences provides auxiliary space for students with signed housing contracts. In addition, a few spaces are designated as limited term housing where a student will be prioritized for placement into a permanent assignment."
The Exponent published photos of some of the auxiliary spaces, which received national attention, in 2018. Marangoni said she suspected that the "quad pluses" may look similar to what it was in previous years.
Buzzfeed News used photos from The Exponent in 2018 of the converted rooms, reporting on the unexpected student living conditions.
“I’m annoyed because of the size of this class in general,” Marangoni said. “They shouldn’t accept more people than they have housing for... especially since this has happened in the past and it blew up back then too.”
Marangoni told The Exponent she first found the situation humorous, thinking, "Well go figure."
"It was only afterward that I really started to get a little concerned, like, we haven’t even started our year and they already have to take steps like this," she said, "and it makes me worried for what they’ll do for this class later, since it’s so big."
Marangoni said she worried for classes, that this situation may foreshadow GPA cut-offs or weed-out classes and program admission.
"It’s like they’re making our housing weed-out too."