Students settle Inn
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Increased enrollment may mean big bucks for Western, but the introduction of a satellite residence has first-year students learning the true meaning of 'love thy neighbour'.
Housing services were forced to take measures such as forming triple occupancy rooms at Delaware Hall and 200 students were placed downtown at King's Inn as a result of guaranteed residence offers to 3,800 first-year students with only 3,141 beds available, explained Susan Grindrod, senior director of housing and food services.
Grindrod said guaranteed residence is not only a main draw for students but makes parents feel better about sending their kids away to school for the first time.
"Some students declined the offer of admittance to Western based on the accommodation," Grindrod said, adding the attrition rate was actually less than in other years and only a few students requested a move in late August.
Special efforts were made during orientation week to make sure the residents of King's Inn felt welcome and part of the week's events by joining them with first-year students from Alumni House.
"Even though this is a different arrangement, we are trying our best to give students a residence life experience comparable to on-campus student life," Grindrod said.
Manager of housing services Chris Bumbacco lists many advantages for students living at the King's Inn residence including larger rooms, a free bus pass, a flexible meal plan, a monetary refund and an opportunity to get to know downtown London.
"Some people were concerned but no one has exercised their option to move onto main campus," Bumbacco said, adding living at the satellite residence could be a positive experience for students who get the best of both worlds.
First-year arts student Adrian Follert says although King's Inn costs less than the main campus residences, meals are a hassle and can be somewhat expensive.
"We can use our meal card basically anywhere but I try to go to main campus for meals as much as possible because it is expensive to eat downtown," she said.
Yet Silverina Anthonipillai, a first-year student in administrative and commercial studies, shares a triple room at Delaware Hall and is enjoying her surprisingly big room, new furniture and two roommates.
"There was some disappointment in the beginning but everything turned out okay. You have to adapt to changes and [housing services] have done everything they could to make us happy," Anthonipillai said.
Western's deputy registrar Rob Tiffin said a more targeted recruiting effort, including new academic programs such as health sciences played a large part in increased enrollment.
The goal this year was to have 3,850 first-year students, explained Tiffin. "We would like to maintain stable enrollment in the years to come although the size of the first-year class must be re-evaluated," he added.