In June of 2021, a letter was sent to all incoming first-year students announcing that “converted triples” would be utilized for the class of 2025, as it was the largest incoming class in Fairfield’s history.
In June it was reported by The Mirror that the Office of Residence Life projected, “that at most, 10 percent of the class, or 150 students” will be housed in converted triples. By September, ResLife reported that nearly 16 % of first years living on campus are in rooms converted from the standard doubles to triples.
Part of the compensation for placing students into these converted triple rooms was financial. In September, students placed in converted triples received a $750 room credit, with efforts by the ResLife office to “detriple” and remove as many students from these converted triples as possible. Students who remained in a converted triple by Oct. 12, were to receive an additional $750 room credit.
In that June letter, ResLife stated, “our experience shows many students decline to be ‘detripled’ when offered, as they like the experience and friendships they have built.”
Charles Sousa, the senior associate director of housing operations in ResLife stated in an interview with The Mirror that they have been de-tripling students since before the start of the school year and have continued to do so into the school year.
He adds that certain students were placed at the top of the list to be “detripled” due to a medical or psychological need that they indicated on a housing policy exemption form handled by the Office of Accessibility.
He states that they started the year with 75 triple rooms. Thus, they would need 75 students to leave to get all of those spaces back to double rooms. He continues that it’s a slow process, and though they were able to “detriple” a big wave at the start of the semester, the process has slowed down.
First-year Andrew Caslin lives in a converted triple in Jogues Hall and expressed disappointment about the de-tripling process to The Mirror.
“I understand that it is a growing pain, and a major issue the university is dealing with to the best of their ability,” Caslin said. “However, on multiple occasions throughout the summer webinars, we were told a number of students in forced triples would be either de-tripled or approached regarding de-tripling by November and I personally have not received any communication regarding this process this entire semester.”
Sousa adds that spaces need to open up first before the University can move people, and thus the priority went to those who went through the Office of Accessibility. ResLife is now at the point of working with students just asking to be “detripled.”
When asked if ResLife has received any comments or feedback from students or parents regarding the converted triples, Sousa stated that the ResLife Office did a few things over the summer to try and help mitigate the number of students in triples.
To accommodate for the Class of 2025, Sousa stated that they converted four lounges in 70 McCormick Hall to rooms, and another lounge in Loyola Hall and utilized “emergency spaces” for 23 additional beds.
Sousa did mention that when roommate assignments were sent out over the summer, people were initially upset and were asking the ResLife Office, “Why my student?”, but Sousa emphasized that it was all a random placement and thus everyone had an equal chance of being placed in a triple.
Caslin found out over the summer that he would be one of the students to live in a converted triple in Jogues Hall.
“Naturally I was a bit disappointed to see that I had been selected to live with two other roommates in a room usually meant for two students,” Caslin said. “But, I figured it would be a temporary situation and would be resolved in a somewhat timely fashion.”
After Fall Break, Sousa mentioned that students were calling and saying they have been waiting eight weeks to be detripled. He adds that they’ve been very open with the people that call and say their student is on the detriple list and at this point, they’re just waiting for spaces to open up.
When asked how next year might look for housing and the future housing for the class of 2025, Sousa states that one of his major roles in the Office of Residence Life is to look at housing projections.
He continues that he creates a model with the projected enrollment, but it’s an “inexact science” because it’s hard to determine which housing area will be more popular with upperclassmen.
He takes the largest first-year class size and the typical projected percentage of students that live on campus, around 94%, and starts adding those into first-year spaces.
Though his living situation being that of a converted triple is not ideal, Caslin said it has “not been terrible.”
“Me and my roommates have all been working hard to make our situation work and I feel that, while it’s still not optimal, we’ve made our conditions as comfortable as we can,” Caslin said.
He added that he “appreciated that the university sought out the largest rooms to best accommodate the forced triples.”
In planning for next year, Sousa is aware that this current class of 2025, Fairfield’s largest First-Year class will eventually be Fairfield’s largest sophomore class and thus adjustments might have to be made next year.
He continues that the sophomore year is typically a year where the students “get squeezed a little bit” and this trend is why 42 Langguth was built.
Caslin hopes that he and others “affected by the forced triples will have priority in [the] sophomore housing [lottery].”
Sousa states that they hope study abroad will return to close to, if not to, pre-pandemic numbers.
He adds that when study abroad was canceled two years ago due to COVID-19, 85 juniors and seniors were without housing that needed to be housed.
They currently have about 60 students abroad and are anticipating roughly the same number in the spring, if not more. Sousa states this would be a huge help on the housing model as it’d put them back to less than 100% full to give them some flexibility for movement.
He added that their projection for the First-Year class was very different from what came and thus ResLife moved sophomore students that had selected the traditionally sophomore housing options, McCormick or Loyola Hall, to typically upperclassmen apartment-style housing, like Mahan Hall.
Sophomore Matt Delaney was one of those students who moved from a traditional sophomore building to an upperclassmen apartment-style building.
“As someone that was supposed to live in McCormick, it is one thousand percent better to live in Mahan because it feels like you’re living in an apartment with real adult responsibilities, like cooking and cleaning. It teaches you how to be an adult.”
When asked if he feels separated from other sophomore students at all the states, “Not at all, most of the sophomores are in the village anyway,” and that, “I was ecstatic to find out that we were living in Mahan as opposed to McCormick.”
ResLife reached out to them in July stating it was a possibility and then confirmed his group had been moved in August.
When asked if there are any current plans to build new housing, Sousa said “nothing is set in stone” as they continue to monitor trends.
He adds that one thing they talk about a lot in higher education is this “Enrollment Cliff.”
According to Inside Higher Ed, this “Enrollment Cliff” was the belief that the decline in the birth rate during the 2008 recession would lead to a 15 percent decline in freshman enrollment beginning in 2025.
Sousa mentions that this hasn’t happened at Fairfield and instead they’ve seen a continued increase and thus they’re expecting a large class in 2026 as well.
Regarding the future for the Class of 2025, Caslin stated, “I do have concerns going forward that there will be a housing shortage each year. As someone who has witnessed first hand the effects of having more students than you can accommodate, I am worried.”