We Need More Space!
Skidmore is getting more cramped for space. The number of first-years housed in triples this year is 100%, excluding students who require housing accommodations. Furthermore, all of these triples are rooms that were initially designed to be doubles, or were not designed to be dorm rooms at all.
This semester, Skidmore has 2309 students living on campus. Housing is particularly tight this year primarily because students aren’t choosing to live off-campus as much as they used to. According to Ryan Ballantine, Assistant Director of Residential Life, students chose off-campus housing far more frequently before the completion of the new Sussman Village apartments. 400 students used to opt to live off-campus, whereas now that number is only 200. Right now, there is no plan for how the Office of Residential Life will act if on-campus housing fills up entirely. Since students are guaranteed housing all four years, if Skidmore does reach full capacity, they will have insufficient housing accommodations. The school has no quick fix for this, nor do they have any long term plans for how to resolve the issue.
Contrary to how it may seem, Skidmore has not been accepting more students than usual. Our applicant rate has increased drastically over the past few years; in 2012 about 6000 people applied to Skidmore, whereas in 2015, 8500 applied. However, our class sizes have not fluctuated much or increased over the past few years. In fact, this year’s first-year class has 38 less students than last year’s.
As Skidmore becomes a more desirable, more selective college for prospective students, it needs to tackle its housing problem. Since presently any student who wants housing on campus will get it in some way or another, it may not seem like a pressing issue. But all first-years spending a year in a crammed triple is certainly not an appealing selling point for the college. ResLife knows that its housing is an incredibly tight squeeze. And yet, Ballantine could speak of no plans to confront the issue.
Furthermore, Skidmore’s space problem goes beyond housing. The academic buildings are low on classroom space, hence all the early-morning and late-night classes this semester. There are nine courses across various departments that run until 9-9:30 PM, seven that run until 8-8:30 PM, and 34 classes that start between 8 and 8:10 AM. There are currently Environmental Science classes taking place in the art building, and Business and English classes in the Tang.
The Editorial Board wishes Skidmore would work on managing its space better, and exercising more forethought when laying out campus space. A student’s quality of life on campus boils down to health, quality of education, and their living space. Living in a small dorm with two other people during one of the most tumultuous times of most first-years’ lives can be emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. Having a class at 8 in the morning or until 9:30 PM can add to that exhaustion.
Residential Life could encourage more students to live off-campus, and make the process of finding an off-campus house simpler and more streamlined. They could also make off-campus housing available to sophomores; as of now it’s only permitted to upperclassmen. Or, the school could start planning and funding another residential hall. Whatever the plan of action, Skidmore needs to spend more energy tackling its space-management issue. It will benefit its current students, and will aid Skidmore’s desirability as a potential college for prospective students.