Butler University is facing a time when the incoming classes continue to grow. The current expected freshman class size of 1,111 students shot up from last year’s class size of 926.
Upperclassmen were offered alternative housing opportunities to help accommodate freshmen.
In 2003, additional housing options were offered when Butler’s incoming freshman class totaled 976 students. This was, at the time, the largest class size in Butler’s history.
“This is not the first time we’ve had the next largest class ever,” Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson said.
“Each year, we’ve utilized what resources and partnerships we have in order to address and provide additional space that we need.”
One of these partnerships is the Christian Theological Seminary apartments, located at the intersection of 42nd street and Haughey Avenue. This option was also offered in 2003 and 2010.
Upperclassmen living in this alternative option pay the Residential College rate, which runs at approximately $5,370 per year for a double room. Fifty-nine students plus one resident assistant will be living there this year.
Accommodations were made in the freshman dorms as well. Fifteen rooms in Schwitzer Hall and 10 male Ross Hall rooms were converted from double rooms to triple rooms. This has been used as an answer to growth before.
Ross has a capacity of 500 students while Schwitzer can now hold around 470 students thanks to the basement renovations that occurred there two years ago, which added more dorm rooms.
“We’re not in a (housing) crisis situation,” Karla Cunningham, director of residence life, said. “I think our facility staff has done a nice job of making sure the rooms are set up with plenty of room and floor space for each student.”
Freshmen who voluntarily opted for the converted triples pay a reduced room rate of $3,210 per year instead of the normal double rate of $4,810 per year.
“I thought at first I wanted a double room, but then, I considered the triple,” freshman Benjamin Abel said. “I’ll be able to save money. It could use a little bit more closet space, but other than that, it’s pretty good so far.”
The increasing freshman classes and sophomore year retention rates contribute to the population growth.
“We’re getting into the phase where policies on housing are being evaluated in order to accommodate increasing numbers,” Johnson said. “We want to do what’s best for Butler.”
What’s best for Butler, Johnson said, depends on feedback and opinions straight from the student body, families and faculty.
“Right now, we’re at a stage where we all need to work together to come up with a strategic plan on moving forward,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to find answers to where we can max out at providing the true Butler experience.”
The strategic plan includes opinions on the size of the university over the next few years, and, if it does grow, the possible addition of a new dorm.
“We always need to be looking at what’s the best housing option for students and making good decisions,” Cunningham said.
Nothing is currently set in stone. The New Student Success Task Force, which is comprised of faculty from different departments, was first established in 2003 to deal with the new growth that year.
Johnson and the force are merely etching out possible plans for the future.
“We want this to be an inclusive process by which people are providing feedback to the thoughts and ideas that are out there,” Johnson said. “In the end, it’s in everyone’s interest to make Butler the best Butler it can be.”