Record enrollment leads to hundreds of UK students without housing assignment

The University of Kentucky is experiencing a growing problem at its residence halls. (Shelby Lofton/WKYT)
The University of Kentucky is experiencing a growing problem at its residence halls. (Shelby Lofton/WKYT)(WKYT)
Published: Jul. 22, 2019 at 5:48 PM EDT
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The University of Kentucky is experiencing a record first-year enrollment and its highest retention rate, but it is causing problems for the school's residence halls.

UK officials say the record number of students has left them with at least 300 without a housing assignment just weeks before classes begin. A group of resident advisors met with university officials Monday night and shared a statement with WKYT, following the meeting.

"After exhausting other options, including Greek Life, university officials informed resident advisors that 24 spaces have been created by converting study rooms into bed spaces, and 160 spaces were created by converting RA Single Rooms into double rooms. The remaining students have yet to be given a space and alternative arrangements are being made."

The statement went on to express concerns about privacy and confidentiality of residents. It also stated that students living with RAs could be disrupted multiple times throughout the day and night.

"If a student is vomiting uncontrollably, experiencing alcohol poisoning, or even having suicidal thoughts, resident advisors don’t want to have to take the time to ensure the confidentiality we are required by law to uphold will be violated."

The university is converting some multi-purpose rooms into bedrooms in an effort to alleviate the problem. Resident assistants may also have roommates, but those plans are not official.

UK's initial plans have led to some campus backlash, including by some RAs.

The university is aware of the petition, and leaders say they will continue to gather input from resident assistants.

In the resident advisors' concluding remarks, they call for continued conversations with UK officials.

"As resident advisors, we appreciate the educational and employment opportunities provided to us by the University of Kentucky. We believe it is a great institution and fully support it in its mission. We just ask the university to provide us with the resources we need so that we may provide the best for our residents."

Blanton said every eligible UK student who completed a housing application will have an assigned room and residence hall before the start of the fall semester. Students who already have a residence hall won't be moved.

UK has added nearly 7,000 beds to its 14 residence halls on campus in the past five years. UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said this problem was something the university planned for.

"It was contemplated at times that, 'Hey, at times there's going to be a capacity issue' and when you do, these rooms were built and designed in fact with pretty much the same amenities as the other rooms," he said.

Those assigned to the multi-purpose rooms will be offered a price break and other benefits.

Fall semester begins Aug. 26.

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