On-campus housing has become a concern for Loyola University students as an influx of freshmen await the fall semester.
The university is gaining a larger-than-normal freshman class for the fall 2021 semester, which may cause a problem for upperclassmen at Loyola New Orleans and for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We don’t yet know the exact size of the class because it ebbs and flows during the summer, but it will be a large class, at least 900 instead of the usual 800 or so,” said Loyola New Orleans President Tania Tetlow.
Tetlow said the university plans to build another residence hall to expand the campus housing capacity, but the process of funding, designing and building that project will take several years.
“We are adding faculty and courses to help cover key first-year classes and staffing in the Student Success Center and Student Affairs,” Tetlow said. “In housing, we’ll continue to prioritize first-year students and use our usual processes to handle overflow.”
Some students, however, are not happy with the way housing was handled for the fall 2020 semester.
“The housing process this year sucked,” said Electra Pelias, a sophomore majoring in psychology. “Housing closed off the Biever and Budding dorms to anyone besides freshmen.”
Budding Hall typically is majority-sophomore with a few freshmen, Pelias said, while sophomores and upperclassmen would live in Carrollton Hall. Biever Hall is an all-freshmen dorm.
Pelias was assigned to a normally upperclassmen-only dorm, Cabra Hall on Loyola’s Broadway Campus, four blocks from the main campus. “Since it’s considered off campus, I can’t park on the main campus — and it’s more expensive,” Pelias said. “I didn’t choose this for myself. I had no other option.”
Campus housing was especially tight in the pandemic, as double rooms were converted to singles and entire floors were blocked off for Covid-19 quarantines.
The university requires all freshman and sophomore students to live on campus, unless they qualify for an exemption — though that requirement was temporarily lifted because of the pandemic.
Until the additional residence hall is built, Loyola’s five dormitories can accommodate 1,374 students. The university had an undergraduate enrollment of 3,188 in the 2020-21 school year, according to an annual U.S. News & World Report survey.
The lack of housing for students also has a ripple effect on the surrounding community as more students move off campus into the surrounding neighborhoods. Single- and multi-family residences in the area are being converted into dormitory-style student housing, spurring a “Stop Doubles to Dorms” movement.
According to neighborhood association Maple Area Residents Inc., these “mini dorms” have pushed housing prices above what working families can afford. Local and national developers rent them by the bedroom, charging each student resident $850 to $1,500 per month.
One out-of-state developer, Amicus Properties, has made a profitable business off of students “living better off campus” in New Orleans, Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Providence, R.I.; and Bethlehem, Pa. Amicus has said its mission is to modernize the off-campus living experience using contemporary design, decor and technology to turn conveniently located houses into ideal homes for students.
Neighborhood groups, along with District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso and others, have been working to counter this trend and its negative effects.
For Loyola, the increased enrollment for the 2021-22 school year is positive news. Overall, Tetlow said, the university is excited to welcome new students to campus.
“We have received an enormous response to Loyola this year, a growing excitement about joining the Wolf Pack,” Tetlow said. “In a pandemic year when most schools have to worry about declining enrollment, we have had a record year.”
Domonique Tolliver is a journalism student at Loyola University and a reporting intern at Uptown Messenger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.