To accommodate record-size class, first-year students permitted to live in apartments, commute


The Chatham apartments differ from the traditional dorm halls in size and accommodations. Photo Credit: Alyssa Bruce

Alyssa Bruce

For many first-year students, the traditional freshman college experience includes sharing a room with another student, and of course, the communal bathrooms. 

This year, some first-year students have been placed in the apartments on Chatham University’s lower campus, despite the apartments traditionally being for only upper class students. 

“When I saw that I would be living in an apartment, I was surprised. I hadn’t selected the apartments on my housing portal, so I was a bit confused,” said Emily Hoffman ‘25. 

“I am jealous of those in my class who got chosen to be in the Chatham Apartments,” said Sarah Barron ‘25. “I like my dorm hall, but I definitely would rather have my own bathroom and kitchen. I wish I would have been one of the students selected to be in the apartments,”she added.

The class of ‘25 is the largest incoming class at Chatham. Devin Fabian, the associate director of residence life, said that “this year placing first-years in the apartments was out of necessity because the first-year class was so big. One challenge was increasing the occupancy to re-densify [from] last year.”

“It was a tough decision,” Fabian said, “but we needed to accommodate the housing for everyone to have a place to stay.”

Erin Gann ‘25, agreed that “since our class size is so big, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be room for all of us.”

There is room in the apartments for these first-years because “over the past four years, more upper class students do tend to live off campus,” said Fabian.

First-year students also experience a more relaxed overnight guest policy this year. In the past, incoming first-year students were not allowed to have overnight guests until the Battle of the Classes ceased in late September. 

This year, this was not a requirement, and Battle of the Classes no longer exists. First-year students experience the same overnight guest policy as the rest of campus, according to Fabian. 

Currently, first-year students also have the option to commute, which is not something they could have done two years ago. Fabian said that “there is technically still a two-year residency requirement. It was waived last year and this year.”

In the future, this is something that will change. “Moving forward … the goal will be to reinstate that [policy],” he said.

The issue of accepting more students than the University had room to fit in its traditional housing model is not something unique to Chatham this year. 

The University of Pittsburgh currently has some freshmen living in hotels located in the city, due to no rooms being available in the dorms. 

At the University of Tampa, many freshmen were placed on a waitlist for on campus housing, and then told that they would have to find and pay for their own off-campus housing. 

“Although it was a surprise, I am happy that I was somehow put into an apartment,” Hoffman said. “The apartment isn’t anything fancy, but I definitely like it better than the dorms.”