With the continuous growth of the student population, underclassman housing arrangements could see change, but not anytime soon.
Bob Strader, director of residence life education and housing, said plans are in place to accommodate the growing class sizes.
In 2012, some of the incoming freshman women were relocated to Sikes Hall, a sophomore residence hall, to accommodate the influx of students. Last year, Barret Hall was transformed into an all women’s hall, though it housed men and women the year before. And this year, freshman men were moved into Edwards Hall for similar reasons.
Though this is untraditional, it doesn’t affect the underclassman on-campus experience.
“I don’t think it matters where underclassmen live as long as they have an opportunity to form relationships and build community,” said Kholo Theledi, who was a resident assistant in Sikes Hall two years ago.
These changes seem to be the result of an overflow of students, but that’s not the case.
“There’s enough spots overall, but sometimes the freshman class of men would be a little larger, maybe the women’s would be a little larger or maybe it’s our sophomore class that’s a little larger,” Strader said.
Last year, there were more than 100 empty spots open in residence halls proving that the relocation of students is done to utilize space efficiently.
“We’ve always had a cushion,” Strader said. “There was a cushion in other halls, there just wasn’t enough room in those halls.”
However, plans are in place should student numbers exceed the number of spots available.
Strader said the first step would be to turn to their partners at University Park Apartments.
“We’d look at adjusting some of our numbers in that direction, because UP is not part of on-campus housing, but it’s on campus,” he said. “We’ve not been that close yet to where we’ve had to look at that as an option.”
Theledi, an ACU graduate from Pretoria, South Africa, said living off campus may not be ideal for new students.
“The dorms make relationship building a little easier, so if people can live in dorms, they should do it,” she said.
There are also plans to expand residence halls, but funding takes that option off the table for now.
“There are several different kind of expansion plans that we have considered that would all take some major funding that we don’t have,” Strader said. “But there are some actual plans drawn up for renovation of Gardner to where it can house more.”
For now, the university is utilizing its resources to accommodate the fluctuating class sizes.
“There’s always adjustments that ACU could make,” Strader said. “We’re always going to try to do what’s best for students. What we have the resources to do and what we think is best for students is what we’ll do.”
Growth is inevitable, and with the transition to Div. I, more students will be attracted to the university.
But, Strader also said next fall could potentially present a challenge.
“We don’t think we’ll go over this year, but if we do, that’d be good,” he said. “We’ll find a way.”