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A Note to parents About Triples

From Scott Chesney, Director of Residential Life

I suspect that the news that your child has been assigned to a triple room perhaps is causing you and/or your child some anxiety.  I will do my best not to sugarcoat the reality of a triple.  I will try to answer what I know might be some of your questions below.  Please feel free to call me during the day at work (603-862-1870) or at home at night (603-868-1251) if you would like to discuss this further. 

Why do you have built up triples? Can’t the university get its act together and plan better? 

We have built up triples because we have more students who wish to live in our residence halls than we have spaces.  We also have a policy that we will house all first year students who wish to have and are eligible for housing.  For the Housing and Reslife offices to eliminate overcrowding, we would either have to disallow satisfied customers who are returning students from returning or we would have to only allow a portion of the new first year students to have housing.  Neither is a good option, nor one we would be permitted to independently make.

So why does the Admissions office accept more new students than UNH can house? 

The reality is that while we have too many students in the residence halls, we don’t in fact have too many students for our classrooms.  The decision on admissions numbers is based more on classroom space than on housing space.  Also, its important to note that Admissions honestly has no way of truly controlling the number of students who accept our offers of admission, since most students apply to multiple schools.  Yes, they have trends to look and in fact are very good at bringing in the number of students that appropriately fill our classrooms without overcrowding those.

So if you know that overcrowding of the halls is an ongoing problem every year, why don’t you build more residence halls?

In fact we have done just that over the past decade, adding three brand new halls, adding on to our existing apartment complexes on campus, and adding spaces while renovating two other residence halls.  The simple answer is money.  When building a new residence hall, the money predominantly comes from the students who live in the halls, as it is built into the rate of all students.  It operates just like a home mortgage.  So a new hall might be on a 30 year mortgage.  The cost of that is added to the room rate of all students in the residence halls for a 30 year period.  We are committed to trying to keep costs down, given the high cost of college.  So financing is the key issue that holds us back, though we do in fact have a master plan for adding new halls.

Why did my child get assigned to a triple?

The assignment to all rooms is done through a combination of factors learned from the information provided to the Housing Office by your son or daughter (hall type preferences, roommate preferences, theme preferences, etc.).  Initially, a computer assigns the students based on those factors.  There is no advantage given to those who put their deposits in early.  In fact there are no special preferences given at all. 

How long will my child have to be in a built up triple?

Our historical experience is that the built up triple issue is a fall semester phenomenon.  Almost every year, all students in built up triples are offered different accommodations during or by the end of first semester.  Some students decline those offers for any number of reasons including financial or because they don’t want to break up their room.  So we do open second semester with students in built ups, but it is almost always by choice of the students.

How are the actual rooms selected that will house triples?

The Housing department has carefully measured the rooms over the course of many years.  Only rooms that are legally capable of holding three students are selected for built up triples.

What about furniture?  How does that work?

Initially, all built up triple rooms come with three desks, three beds, and some forms of storage (closet, bureau, dressers, etc.).  The beds in those rooms usually include a bunk bed and a loft bed, which allows things like dressers and desks to be under the loft bed. 

Do students in built up triples have a tougher time than other students?

Over the years we have done multiple studies on this issue.  The brief answer is no.  Students do just as well academically and socially.  They don’t drop out of school at higher rates.  They do receive more attention from staff.  Two years ago, the University Counseling center did a year long study of students living in built up triples.  They essentially reached the same conclusions.  In fact, students identified several advantages they experienced living in triples.  Most said that they were better off with the situation than their parents.  In fact, a key finding was that the parent attitude upon finding out about the triple assignment is key.  If you decide to display anxiety and anger, this may well transmit to your student in a way that is not good. 

What will hall staff be doing to deal with built up triples?

My staff will begin meeting with students in built up triples immediately, with the goal of assessing how the situation is going, providing advice for how to make it work, and giving information on how getting out of a triple works.  They will of course be assessing which situations, if any, are particularly volatile.

We have also provided on the Housing website some videos and interviews with students in built up triples.  These videos will provide tangible advice before your student ever gets here.  I encourage you to watch these videos with your student.

In closing……..

I don’t like that we have built up triples.  I wish we didn’t but we do.  Given that reality, I promise you that my staff and I will do all we can to aid your son or daughter in this transition.  Again, please feel free to call me at any time.

Scott Chesney
Director of Residential Life


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