Facing increased demand for campus housing, the Office of Undergraduate Housing has moved into spaces previously off-limits, blocking off a floor for transfer students in the International House (I-House) and placing first-year undergraduate students in Stony Island.
Fifty more first years and about 10 more transfer students applied for housing this year, according to Director of Undergraduate Housing Katie Callow-Wright. The move is especially significant for I-House, which has historically operated independently from the house culture.
“In the past there haven’t been subgroups [of I-House] that are divided by floor or section, there hasn’t been a structured group until now,” Callow-Wright said. “We’re not calling it a ‘house,’ it’s the Transfer Student Housing Program (TSHP); a very generic and not sexy name.”
I-House residents include thirty-five transfer students and international students-at-large, in line with the housing system in an undergraduate residence hall. Students move in during Orientation Week, may establish a house council, have access to the O-Week dining plan, 800 quarterly flex points, a table in the South Campus Dining Commons (SCDC), and space for weekly study breaks.
Traditionally only transfer students lived in Stony Island, but with an increase in applications it was easier for the housing office to put extra first year students in a house that was already established and accommodating new students.
“Part of the reason we put first-years in Stony is because we didn’t have to make big changes, we just plugged them in,” Callow-Wright said. “We had already worked with the heads of Stony to add security [for] first year students living away from home for the first time.”
Both of these changes came out of a decision made by the housing office over the summer after exhausting space in other residence halls.
“We added about 30 beds in other residence halls to increase our capacity, but then we still needed more room,” Callow-Wright said. “When we looked at options, we thought that transfer students do really well when they connect as a community.”
The TSHP was designed to allow transfer students to remain somewhat independent of the housing system while still being part of a community. “We wanted them to be a community within themselves but wanted them to connect with I-House as a whole,” Callow-Wright said.
Adding to the house-like feel is the presence of a program manager who acts as a Resident Head in some regards, although the building itself presents an obstacle to holding traditional house events.
“[The program coordinator] doesn’t have a full apartment, or the luxury of a lounge where she can bring the whole house for community building,” Callow-Wright said. “We have found ways around that though, by reserving some space for study breaks on a weekly basis, but it’s by no means the same as a house lounge.”
Unlike houses within the system, the TSHP does not guarantee housing for the following year because future status is yet to be determined.
“This is a temporary step that we took and we’re not sure if it will become permanent.” Callow-Wright said. “I think that this is a good way of meeting the needs of [the transfer student] community and I’m eager to see how it plays out over the course of the year.”