Most Wheaton students will remember their first dorm room and their first college roommate. Because they are a focal point of the first year living away from home, they can can even be considered an essential part of the college experience.
The freshman housing experience, however, has seen some significant changes. This fall, Wheaton welcomed a much larger class of first-year students than it had in previous years. The class of 2020 currently stands at 534 students—more than 26% larger than the number of students who enrolled in the class of 2019 last year.
Although many upperclassmen at Wheaton may think of rooms in the Young, MacIntire and Clark area as doubles, these rooms were previously constructed to be used as triples. With this in mind, many of the rooms in the YMC area have been converted back to their original state as triples in order to accommodate for the larger class of freshmen. “We made investments in furniture to increase the floor space in these rooms. The desk is a bit smaller, and there is one loft bed and one bunk bed in each room,” says YMC Area Coordinator, Brendon Soltis. In addition, a few freshmen have also been put in White House in order to accommodate for the large student body.
Although many Wheaton students may balk at the idea of increasing the number of triples, some think it could increase the sense of community within the freshman class. At the very least, the number of roommate conflicts between first-year students has not increased despite the rise in triples.
“More so among first-years, people have a much higher tolerance at this time of year,” said Associate Director of Housing Operations Todd Brelsford. “However, the roommate conflicts that do arise are not due to the fact that there are more triples. We’ve actually seen a greater community in the freshmen dorms, with more open doors and socializing,” says Soltis.
There are some who hypothesize that the larger class size was a strategic move by the college to increase student body numbers. However, the size of the class of 2020 may simply be an anomaly. Typically, Wheaton admits many more students than they expect to commit to the college, as most do not accept the college’s offers. Therefore, the size of this year’s class may be do more to random chance or better marketing, rather than a true strategic move.
Still, with Wheaton’s popularity on the rise, will we continue to see an increase in the number of prospective students who say “yes” to Wheaton? If this is the case, the proposition to expand current housing facilities will continue to be pertinent into the future.