Crowded dorms give students early experience in cramming

Three's a crowd for some YSU students living on campus.
YOUNGSTOWN -- When Brian Akanowicz moved into his dormitory room at Youngstown State University last week, he was happy to meet his new roommate.
When a second roommate showed up, he was more than a little surprised.
Akanowicz, 18, a freshman from the North Hills of Pittsburgh, and two other students are jammed in a two-person room in Lyden House residence hall.
"I wasn't too satisfied," Akanowicz said from his 13-foot-by-16-foot second-floor room that's stuffed with three of everything -- beds, dressers, desks and wardrobe closets.
"Just look at this room. It's pretty crowded. I didn't think you could fit three people in here."
Tripled up: Akanowicz is among a handful of YSU students that have been tripled up this year as the university tries to meet the increasing demand for campus housing.
A record 933 students are living in YSU's five residence halls this year, nearly quadruple the 237 a dozen years ago when the university had only one dormitory.
For the third consecutive year, the halls -- built to hold about 890 students -- are over capacity, forcing YSU to again convert study lounges into bedrooms and put three students in rooms built for two.
"We bought some lofting furniture, which makes the rooms bigger by letting you put the dresser and the desk underneath the bed," said Jack Fahey, YSU housing director. "We're trying to make the best out of the situation."
Fahey said that as YSU's fall enrollment finalizes over the next few weeks, he hopes he can move students around so each room has only two.
Just waiting: That would be a welcome move for Akanowicz.
"It'll be so much more roomy with just two people," he said from the crammed room littered with laundry and electrical wires snaking across the floor. "I'll actually be able to sit down and relax a little."
YSU is not alone in its housing crunch.
In same boat: Many schools nationwide, including the University of Nebraska and University of Maryland, have tripled up students in the past two years. Other schools, such as the University of Minnesota and Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., put students up in local hotels.
Kent State University, with 6,300 students in 28 residence halls, is housing students in study lounges and requiring many residence assistants, who normally get their own rooms, to take on roommates this year.
Terry Webb, KSU director of residence services, said the university has tripled up students before, but not this year.
"Unless the room is really designed for it, you're just really stuffing them in," he said.
KSU will open two new dormitories for 400 students next school year and add 400 more beds in each of the following two years, Webb said.
Relief in sight: YSU also hopes to get some relief next year when a private developer opens an $18 million 400-bed student apartment complex on Wick Oval on campus.
"We can't wait," Fahey said. "We're starting to hear a lot of excitement about it."
He said plans to convert part of the closed Wick-Pollock Inn into student housing have been shelved.
"We can foresee that we have a pretty good shot of filling these 400 beds" in the new student apartments, he said. "But, to add another 150 or 200 beds [at Wick-Pollock] probably wouldn't be that smart right now."

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