Three’s a crowd?

Students living in Cypress A and B have been assigned three to a room, which has been a problem for some and a non-issue for others. ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

As demand for on-campus housing at USF grows, the need for a larger capacity to house these new students also increases.

During the room-return process in spring, rooms in the Cypress suites A and B near the corner of Maple and Holly Drive were designated to house three students instead of two as they have in previous years.

Brandon Padovano, a freshman majoring in accounting, said when he moved into a room on the fifth floor of one of the Cypress buildings, he was the last of the three students to move in.

“Both my roommates were already in, so I got whatever space was left over,” Padovano said. “I got the bottom bunk and the small desk … so I don’t really have a study space.”

With the current configuration, each suite’s door to the hallway has nametags of the six students living in the suite and opens into a small foyer. The hallway leads to two bedrooms within the suite with cabinets, a stand for kitchen appliances, a single shower down the end and a bathroom, containing a single toilet for all six students living there.

Each bedroom contains a regular bunk bed and a single upper bunk bed above a desk for sleeping three students. The rooms also have a second full-size desk and a smaller third desk, along with a cabinet, closet space and a sink.

Ana Hernandez, assistant vice president of Housing and Residential Education, said the reconfiguration is part of USF’s effort to provide more students the opportunity to live on campus after the university looked at student demand for housing.

“We certainly have not had a lot of access for transfer students to come live on campus, and we’ve been at 105, 106 percent occupancy for the last couple of years,” Hernandez said. “We were looking for an opportunity where (housing more students) would make more sense.”

She said it made sense to reconfigure the Cypress suites for an extra student because it is USF’s largest suite-style housing option and seemed to fit three students with furniture. She said in previous years, USF redesigned rooms in the Andros II complex to house two students instead of one.

Hernandez said there are 418 students living in the Cypress suites, 30 percent of whom are returning residents. She said semester rates there are the same as Beta and Castor doubles, $2,386 a semester, and students in Cypress suites would have paid $2,826 a semester if the rooms were still doubles.

With those numbers, if each of the six students in the suite pays $2,386 this semester, each suite would generate $14,316. The previous year’s individual price, multiplied by four students, would mean each suite would generate $11,304 for Housing each semester. 

By reducing the individual price, but adding one person in each room, each suite would increase revenue by $3,012.

In an emailed statement, Gregory Bowers, the Housing and Residential Education assistant director for communications, said all 176 rooms between both Cypress suites buildings are triples, with the exception of 10 Resident Assistant (RA) rooms and 15 rooms leased to a sorority in Cypress B.

Hernandez said even after reconfiguring Cypress suites and Andros II to house more students, USF is still home to over 5,600 residents, which places the campus at 105 percent occupancy.

Hernandez said students’ reactions to the redesigned suites depended on how much living space they were comfortable with, as some are fine sharing a bedroom with two roommates, while others prefer more personal space. 

She said the most common concern students are expressing to Housing regarding Cypress suites is the size of the rooms’ smaller third desk, which she said was chosen to conserve floor space and is the same type of desk used by other college housing, including UNF, UWF, FSU and Georgia Tech.

“The trend for these smaller desks is feedback we’ve gotten from the furniture companies — a lot of students are just using their laptops,” Hernandez said. “One thing we tried to do to accommodate for that is we added different types of furniture in the Cypress lounges, so there is more tabletop surface, and students have that opportunity as a different kind of study space.”

Padovano said during his housing tour over the summer, he was shown a room in Juniper-Poplar, housing at Holly Apartments and a community style building. He said he had no idea the Cypress suites existed until going to Housing to move from a room in Mu Hall.

“The housing office said, ‘We have a Cypress triple and you’re going to have two other roommates or you can just stay in Mu because we don’t have any other rooms available,’” Padovano said.

While he thinks his room is relatively large, he said he does not feel there is enough space for the third resident. He said it could use a larger third desk and possibly a bed rearrangement.

“The hardest thing about the triple is using the bathroom, because there’s always someone using the bathroom. There’s just one bathroom for the six of you,” Padovano said.

Gowan McDonald, a freshman majoring in English, said he lives on the fifth floor of Cypress A, and he said he feels the room is nicely laid out and feels space is not an issue for having two other roommates. 

“It seems like an efficient solution to housing and (for addressing) the amount of people who want housing,” McDonald said.

Though he said he was surprised to learn he had two roommates after checking the information on his housing application, he said he doesn’t have an issue with his new living situation. 

“I have all the space I need, and my roommates aren’t really in the room all the time, so there’s a good amount of time when I just have the room to myself,” he said.

CJ Ramsey, a freshman majoring in English, said he lives on the first floor of one of the Cypress buildings. He said while there were problems with the room’s Ethernet connection, there aren’t any major problems the university needs to address.

“It’s just because it’s so new, there are some kinks that need to be worked out, but the rooms themselves are pretty nice,” Ramsey said. “I do (feel cramped) a little bit, but that’s because my roommates were there first … as it is now, it works all right.”

Hernandez said Housing has not received any major complaints and is reaching out to students on an individual basis. She added RAs work directly with students in Cypress suites to address problems.

She said it is likely the Cypress suites will continue housing three students in each room next year, and the possibility of future reconfigurations of other housing locations depends on USF’s capacity and demand for on-campus housing.

“We are going to be examining what students’ experiences are,” Hernandez said. “I’m not sure whether we have another location that would accommodate triples the way the Cypress space does, but we always look at different options.”