Housing shortage sends some sophomores off-campus

Camille Buckner, Contributing Reporter

Broadway, a popular street near campus, is home to many off-campus residencies. Josh Jessiman

Back-to-school can prove stressful, but at Tulane University, one aspect sophomore students traditionally have not had to worry about is whether they would be living on-campus or off. 

But the class of 2025 is the university’s largest to date: 2,027 first year students started last fall. 

As a result, last spring, many of those students were joining the waitlist for on-campus housing or searching for rental properties in neighboring areas. 

“[Tulane] was just like, ‘you’re guaranteed a bed somewhere,’” Violet Schimel, a sophomore who was placed on the residence hall waitlist and opted to live off-campus, said. “They were literally out of beds. So that made no sense.”

Timothy Lempfert, executive director of housing and residence life, said no sophomore students were told there was no space for them on campus. Instead, the university sent emails inviting sophomores to opt for off-campus residence. According to Lempfert, about 150 sophomores were granted permission to reside off campus. 

“We had enough students opt into that to ensure the needed space for the students that wanted to live on campus for this year,” Lempfert said. 

Students who did not receive a sophomore dorm assignment were offered a spot on a waitlist where Tulane guaranteed them a room, one way or another. 

But that notion alarmed some students. Schimel said she was assigned the third time slot to choose on-campus housing. Once Tulane notified her of her waitlist position, she feared she would be placed in a freshman dorm. Instead of keeping her spot on the waitlist, Schimel opted to apply for off-campus housing.

“I think the university should do a better job of being more descriptive with their plans, and they shouldn’t over admit students,” Schimel said. “They should know the number of students that are going to live on-campus, the number of sophomores they have [and] they should count the number of rooms they have [to] make sure they match up before the process even starts.” 

Ultimately, Schimel said, she is content with her off-campus situation. She enjoys having her own shower and kitchen. The only complication has been commuting. 

“I like to leave two minutes before my class starts and that’s just not possible anymore,” she said. “It was a bit difficult at first, figuring out what time I needed to leave.”

Marissa Woloshin, another sophomore who chose to live off-campus instead of remaining on the residence hall waiting list, said the shift surprised her. 

“Obviously I wasn’t looking to live off campus, especially my sophomore year,” Woloshin said. “At other schools, a lot of people live off campus after their first year, but it’s different here.” 

Woloshin and Schimel both said they believe Tulane could have been more clear in their communication regarding housing for the 2022-2023 academic year, and that the central problem lies in over-admittance. 

“I think maybe it’s a problem with communication between admittance and housing,” Woloshin said. “They can’t fit everyone.” 

According to Lempfert, “We have not previously taken these steps, and we do not anticipate this situation will repeat in foreseeable years due to smaller class sizes, and more available housing due to the new construction.”

He said, “We are more than excited to open our new residence halls — Lake and River Halls; and we look forward to housing all of our sophomores again in future years.”

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