Dorm Occupancy Lies
by Silence Dogood

Just because someone says something repeatedly doesn’t make it true! Last November at a Town Hall Meeting, the following slide was shown documenting the decline in the occupancy in the residence halls:

Clearly, the number of students electing to live in a university residence hall has been declining. If that was the goal, “Mission Accomplished.” However, also shown in the graph is the FYE enrollment. If you determine the percentage of the number of students in the residence halls (including Coborn’s Plaza) of the FYE enrollment, you obtain the following figure:

What this figure shows is that, as a percentage of the total FYE, the percentage of students living in university housing is certainly not decreasing but actually might be slightly INCREASING! Repeatedly, the administration has said: “we don’t have the type of accommodations wanted by students.” The data clearly shows that this statement is not true. It has also been said: “more students are electing to live at home.” Again, the data seems to contradict this statement as well. Further, the administration has said: “with more part-time students, there are fewer students wanting to live in university residence halls.” If this or the two prior assertions were true, the percentage in residence halls should be declining. It is not.

In the FY15 Financial Recovery Plan released on January 28, 2015, there is the statement:

“The majority of individuals living in residence halls are freshman students.”

What the administration has failed to recognize is that the decrease in occupancy in the residence halls is due almost entirely to the decrease in the number of new entering freshmen students (NEF). The following figure shows the NEF enrollment by Fall Term from Fall’08 to Fall’14.

The administration’s plot of the residence hall occupancy showed data from FY2010 to FY2014. From the data from the NEF Headcount Enrollment for this same time period, the NEF enrollment dropped from Fall’09 (2,390) to Fall’13 (1,703) by 687 students, which translates into a decline of 28.7%.

Using the data in the administration’s plot of the residence hall occupancy shows the number of students in residence halls dropped from 2,888 in FY2010 to 2,296 in FY2014, which is a decline of 592 and corresponds to a decrease of 20.4%.

The NEF enrollment declined 28.7%. The number of students living in residence halls declined 20.4%. Clearly, the decline in residence hall occupancy is a simple fact that there are fewer NEF students enrolling in SCSU. As a result, the decline in dormitory occupancy has NOTHING to do with students not wanting to live in traditional dormitory style housing or more students wanting to live at home or even wanting to go to school part-time and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that the NEF enrollment at SCSU has fallen off a cliff.

At some point, the administration should stop repeating the mantra about demographics, part-time students, the lack of desirable housing, etc… and recognize that the enrollment decline at SCSU is a failure on the part of the administration to market SCSU and recruit students. Everything else is just trying to find someone or something to blame.

Real leaders accept responsibility. Rather than accepting responsibility, this administration just prays it’s coated with Teflon.

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