Zac VanderLey—Staff Writer
At Dordt University’s Kuyper Apartments, seven is the new six. While the upperclassmen apartment building has historically housed six students per apartment, giving preference to seniors, rooms of seven will now be favored, regardless of academic year.
On Jan. 28, Student Government discussed the upcoming changes to the university’s housing, which will take effect in the 2022 Fall Semester. Later, Student Services emailed students about the changes brought on by record enrollment and a high retention rate.
“We are proactively identifying other on-campus housing possibilities as we look forward to next year,” the email said.
Currently, a Kuyper apartment contains a living area, a kitchen, three bedrooms, and a bathroom. In years prior, each of the three bedrooms were typically shared by two students. For the new, preferrable group of seven students, a group of three students will now share a single bedroom.
“Who’s going to want to be in the room with three people?” Kenzie Cunard said.
Cunard, a senior, lives in Kuyper with four other roommates. Last semester, her apartment housed six, including herself.
At the Student Government meeting, Derek Buteyn, associate dean of students and director of residence life, discussed next year’s plans: “Kuyper was designed with population fluctuation in mind, so we could adjust to our needs in any given year.” Buteyn said. “This change seems to be a significant departure from the norm, but we’re actually not using our space differently than what it was intended for.”
Buteyn, who said that groups of seven have previously “thrived” in Kuyper, also referenced the number of Kuyper residents who study off-campus or graduate after the fall semester, “which would allow for more space in the apartment.”
Though the university will favor complete groups of seven for Kuyper, incomplete groups of six are not ineligible for the apartment building. At Dordt, housing assignments are determined in part via a point system based on students’ high school graduation year. The further removed a student is from their senior year of high school, the more points they receive for their room. Even so, the point system only comes into play when comparing complete groups with other complete groups and incomplete groups with other incomplete groups. So, a complete group of seven juniors would still receive preference over a group of six seniors, regardless of points.
This year, in order to accommodate the largest enrollment in university history, Dordt provided non-traditional housing to a number of its students, including underclassmen in East Campus Apartments, off-campus housing, and ten upperclassmen in the house of former Dordt University President B.J. Haan.
Calvin Bader, a senior, planned on living in Kuyper with five others this year, but when Buteyn offered him and ten other upperclassmen the former president’s house as an alternative, he accepted the invitation.
When an underclassman, Bader struggled to make space for his fish tank. In the former president’s house, though, Bader set up the fish tank in his three-person bedroom, along with a couch, two desks, and three beds. In total, the house contains four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a mess hall, a sunroom, and a living room.
“Luckily, we all get along well,” Bader said, who reflects on his living situation as “good” and “with ups and downs.”
Next year, the university plans to house 12 to 15 upperclassmen students in the former president’s house.
“It’s illogical,” Joe Kamstra, a resident of the house, said. “I can’t think of fifteen people who I’d want in the house next year.”
As mentioned before, the former president’s house has four bedrooms. In order to accommodate two to five additional students, the house’s other rooms may become makeshift bedrooms, including the mess hall.
“It’s not livable,” Kamstra said about the mess hall being used as a bedroom. “It’s like a sterile hospital.”
Buteyn and the university have worked alongside architects for a number of years in hopes of building additional on-campus housing within the next five years.
“I think this year was certainly its own special deal that Dordt wasn’t ready for…and it’s working for now,” Bader said. “I think that the future should be different.”