Eastern Shore to House Freshmen; Living Learning Communities to Reside in Facility

by   Posted on February 15th, 2010 in Uncategorized

Ethan Vaughn, Asst. News Editor

When the Eastern Shore housing area opens for the fall 2010 semester, it will be welcoming only freshmen.

The new dorm building, which first housed students last fall, will be used to accommodate some of George Mason University’s Living Learning Communities (LLCs).

The suite-style housing, which has no more than four residents to a bathroom or 16 to a common room, has been home to a mix of upperclassmen and freshmen this year and some Mason students are not happy with the transition.

That’s really stupid,” remarked Jon Zerbonia, a senior administration of justice major. “Liberty [Square] and that stuff used to be all seniors, but then they opened it up to freshmen because so many people are trying to live here. I haven’t been able to live on campus because of the lack of housing. There’s no point in making [Eastern Shore] all freshmen. It actually kind of makes me mad.”

Denise Taylor, the director of Housing and Residence Life, called the idea of Eastern Shore being changed into an all-freshmen area a misconception.

“Eastern Shore was built specifically for Living Learning Communities,” Taylor said. “The only reason it wasn’t all LLC housing this year is because we knew it wouldn’t be opened in time for the start of the semester in August. Certainly, it is more than 50 percent freshmen now. [The rest are] transfer students. We knew it would open in mid-October, so we decided to use it for overflow.”

Living Learning Communities are special groups in which small numbers of students live together in “modules.”

“The intent,” Taylor elaborated, “is that students with common interests and programs have shared living space together and form a sense of community.”

Eastern Shore joins Presidents Park, University Commons and Dominion as areas that are all or predominantly freshmen, whereas before most first-year students could be housed in only Presidents Park.

Today, roughly 1,100 freshmen live in Presidents Park, while approximately 850 reside elsewhere on campus, bringing the number of freshmen outside the Park to nearly 44 percent.

Taylor predicted that a minority of freshmen will actually be in the Park complex within the next several years, but denied that Mason was focusing on its incoming students at the expense of those already here.

“Next fall, we’re opening 400 beds for upperclass students in a brand-spanking-new housing area — Hampton Roads,” she said. “Other than Eastern Shore, all of the buildings opened in the last six years have been for upperclassmen.”

Taylor attributes the competitiveness in obtaining housing slots to the surge of applications Mason has received in the last several years.
“There’s been a huge push to become more residential,” she detailed. “There will be 400 more beds in fall 2010, in Hampton Roads, and 600 more in fall 2012. I find it ironic when people talk about this as a ‘commuter campus.’ There are 5,000 residents here. That’s nothing to sneeze at.”

Within two years, the number of on-campus residents is expected to jump to 6,000.

Dean of Admissions Andrew Flagel confirmed that the Mason population is rising.

“The profile, quality and competitiveness has gotten intense,” he said. “And the number of out-of-state students applying has increased precipitously. We’re on a pretty amazing trajectory.”

Flagel traces the jump to a successful public relations campaign that he says bore fruit in the fall of 2005, not, as popular belief holds, after Mason’s basketball team went to the Final Four that winter.
“In 2007, the academic year following the Final Four, our applications jumped by 22 percent, but we actually admitted fewer people,” Flagel said. “Our growth in reputation, faculty prestige and research productivity had been present for years and led to an upward swing.”
Mason is now undertaking what Flagel calls “managed growth,” to meet “fiscal issues and capacity demands.”

Still, though, housing can be guaranteed for all freshmen who want it and can be maintained for their full time at Mason; the shortage of space for those outside the system trying to get in will remain.
Mason surpassed Virginia Commonwealth University to become the most populous school in the Commonwealth last fall, and applications from first-time students jumped from 14,000 to 20,000 between 2009 and 2010.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>