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Grace DeSandro/Collegian
Grace DeSandro/Collegian

There are more than 450 Hillsdale stu­dents living off campus this year — the most in the school’s history.

Some junior men said they are unsat­isfied with housing options, after not receiving an assigned room on campus for the 2016 – 2017 aca­demic year, making them find housing else­where. Although the Hillsdale College website’s res­i­dential life page says stu­dents are “guar­anteed a room in a res­i­dence hall for all four years,” admin­is­trators said growing freshman classes and high retention rates have decreased the number of beds available to upper­classmen.

In 2006, there were 231 stu­dents living off campus. In the last decade, that figure has nearly doubled to 450.

“When we talk to stu­dents after grad­u­ation, they loved their expe­rience in the dorms,” Dean of Women Diane Philipp said. “They loved getting to know people and build rela­tion­ships. You can still do that off campus, but it’s a bit dif­ferent.”

With just four men’s dorms on campus — Simpson, Gal­loway, and Nied­feldt res­i­dences and the Suites — upper­classman men have fewer options than the women, who can choose between nine. Dean of Men Aaron Petersen said about one third of Hillsdale’s men tra­di­tionally live off campus, even if some of those men would prefer to live in a dorm.

“There are guys who don’t want to move off campus but know they have a duty to help make room,” Petersen said. “They’d rather be on campus making rela­tion­ships.”

Junior Brendan Noble said admin­is­trators notified him to find off-campus housing for the 2016 – 2017 school year in late June, after he didn’t receive a room assignment in Simpson.

“I was not encouraged or given a choice to move off campus,” Noble said. “I was angry. I loved living in Simpson, and I felt unfairly tar­geted con­sid­ering how involved I had been in the dorm and had hoped to be a res­ident assistant for at least my senior year.”

In August, stu­dents and admin­is­trators who par­tic­i­pated in the Student Lead­ership Workshop, a week-long course for campus leaders, brain­stormed ideas for a new upper­classman dorm. Although plans are still under devel­opment, Philipp said the dorm would offer more rooms for upper­classmen. With Gal­loway as the next dorm on the college’s ren­o­va­tions docket, a new dorm could also help solve a dis­placement problem, as well, since Gal­loway, like Mauck Res­i­dence, will need more than one semester to be updated.

Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé said the dorm would be built near Benzing Res­i­dence on college-owned land and be about the same size. The dorm would house around 60 stu­dents, offering at least single and double bed­rooms and com­munity-style bath­rooms. Each bed would cost around $50,000-$52,000, amounting to an esti­mated $3.2 million total cost, Péwé said.

Still, Péwé said building the dorm remains hypo­thetical, and a timeline is far from finalized. The dorm would likely take eight to 10 months to con­struct.

“Gal­loway is probably okay for a couple of years,” Péwé said. “My guess is that we would start some­thing in the fall of 2019, in a perfect world. But we’ve been using surplus money for ren­o­va­tions, so it’s hard to say.”

Some stu­dents, however, said they would like to see the new building sooner rather than later.

“A new dorm is a necessity,” Noble said. “It doesn’t need to be large, but there needs to be the option for people to live on campus. I believe actually required things, like a new dorm, are being over­looked.”