Hundreds of UK students forced to live in makeshift dorm rooms as enrollment soars

The University of Kentucky has overbooked its student dorms by the hundreds, leaving many incoming freshmen and resident advisers stressed ahead of the new semester.

To help accommodate a record-high freshman enrollment of 5,450, which is 239 more than the previous record set in 2015, UK is converting multipurpose rooms in residence halls into overflow housing and assigning roommates to resident advisers who normally have a private room. Rooms are being converted in Blazer Hall, Chellgren Hall, Haggin Hall, Holmes Hall, Jewell Hall, Lewis Hall, Woodland Glen II, Woodland Glen III, Woodland Glen IV and Woodland Glen V.

The solution is ongoing, according to UK spokesman Jay Blanton.

“Our residence life and housing staff are developing solutions in partnership with our resident advisers,” Blanton said. “We will communicate a more specific plan this week and will be communicating directly with students and parents.”

According to Sarah Geegan, a spokeswoman with UK’s Department of University Relations, all students will be assigned a room for the upcoming school year. Geegan said some students have been placed in converted RA or multipurpose rooms, which are outfitted with similar amenities to regular dorm rooms.

UK housing officials posted a gallery of photos displaying the layout of a few such converted rooms. The rooms include an “XL-twin mattress and frame, dresser, desk, desk chair and area for hanging clothing,” as well as an attached bathroom.

All affected students have been contacted through their UKY email address and will be billed a reduced housing rate of $3,750 per semester, or $798 less than the regular rate. According to the UK housing website, affected students will also be provided an extra $200 in flex dollars, which can be used at several dining services and convenience stores on campus.

Reports of the mass overbooking circulated on student email servers last week and an online petition was created by “a concerned RA.” The petition, which had 1,500 signatures as of Monday afternoon, suggests alternative solutions to the problem, including off-campus housing assignments for all overflow students.

The petition criticized the decision to re-purpose RA and study rooms, claiming that RA responsibilities would substantially increase as a result.

Blanton said UK housing officials are in conversation with RAs this week about “additional benefits” that may be provided. He added that the resignation period for RAs has been extended so that concerned students can resign their position and remain in good standing with the university if they want.

In the meantime, UK housing applications remain open, although applicants are warned that capacity has been met. Those who choose to apply may be added to a waiting list or placed in overflow housing.