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With dorms full, resident assistants forced to take roommates

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Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 1:05 am

When Samuel Mirtil turned in his UF housing contract at Preview, he expected to spend the next 10 months sharing a room with someone he barely knew and a bathroom with eight other guys.

Instead, the chemistry freshman was told that there was no more on-campus housing available and he would be put on a waiting list for the spring semester, but he would have to look off campus.

Mirtil is not alone in his housing frustration. This year, UF received 14,466 applications for on-campus housing. There are currently 7,744 students living on campus.

The disparity between these numbers has caused the UF housing department to turn to some unconventional measures.

About 100 resident assistants were given temporary roommates, and 64 students have been placed in overflow housing off campus - situations that have yet to be fully resolved five weeks into the semester.

Each year, UF Housing offers more room contracts than there are rooms available to ensure that residence halls are as full as possible.

"We typically open every fall semester with an average occupancy of 102 to 103 percent," said Sharon Blansett, assistant to the associate vice president for student affairs.

Usually, she said, students without rooms are placed in temporary late-applicant triples or in overflow housing. Overflow spaces include apartments or other rooms not traditionally used for housing.

This year, the overflow housing arrangements may last through the spring semester as the housing department struggles to first find open rooms for the resident assistants' roommates.

"We're working to move these students into a different permanent housing arrangement," Blansett said. "They're our first priority to take any available space."

As resident assistants typically have their rooms to themselves, Blansett said the housing department asked for volunteers who would be willing to share a room.

The other students have been placed in Oakbrook Walk, an apartment complex on Southwest 13th Street, south of Archer Road.

Mirtil said he was shocked when he heard he would not be able to live on campus.

"I feel like I'm missing out on the freshman experience," he said.

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