As students return to in-person learning this year, the residential community at Rollins has also continued to grow.
This semester marks the largest number of on-campus residential students in Rollins history. As of Sept. 8, 1,465 beds out of 1,554 have been filled, according to Juan Escobar, interim director of Residential Life & Explorations.
This is a significant increase from previous residency rates, which averaged 1,200 to 1,250 beds, Escobar said.
Rollins administration projected residency rates early on to be “90 percent or low 90s,” said Escobar, but it reached 94 percent residency this semester.
The increase in residence occupancy can be attributed to multiple factors, the most notable being the completion of Lakeside Neighborhood and the reinstitution of the three-year residency mandate, said Dean of Students Leon Hayner.
The three-year residency mandate was initiated by Rollins during the 2019-2020 academic year. It requires all students who do not fill out an exemption form to live on campus for at least three years during their time at Rollins. Escobar said that this rule was reinstituted with direct intention.
“There’s a lot of data that suggests that students that live on campus are able to be retained more effectively, have higher graduation rates, are more engaged on campus with each other, [and] just have a more overall satisfactory experience while they’re here,” Escobar said.
While this requirement was put on hold last year due to COVID-19, it has been reinstated this year as the campus has returned to fully in-person classes.
The completion of Lakeside Neighborhood has increased both the supply of beds on campus and the average quality of on-campus housing. Lakeside boasts 125 units with 500 beds and additional selling points, including full-sized beds and private bathrooms.
Hayner said that COVID-19 is still impacting residency to a small degree, as some students have decided to take another gap year, and some international students have struggled to get the necessary visas to travel to Rollins for their studies. However, this relates to a relatively small group of individuals.
As the two-week mark of the semester has passed, Hayner said that the time for students to change housing has now opened. Rollins has a very lenient policy when it comes to housing cancellations, Hayner said, as students can cancel their housing up to the day classes begin and still receive a full refund.
For students who may have been left without a roommate, the opening of the room change process can now allow them to move residences in order to room with other students, Hayner said.
So as the 2021-2022 school year continues, residential students will notice more faces around campus and more opportunities for connection.