August 28, 2006 | N/A

Move-in day at Calvin College is Wednesday, August 30, a day the college expects some 1,036 first-year students to move onto campus.

Move-in day at Calvin College is Wednesday, August 30, a day the college expects some 1,036 first-year students to move onto campus, an increase of about 30 students from last year and up about 130 from the year before.

That large first-year class, coupled with more sophomores, juniors and seniors who want to live on campus, has meant a pleasant problem for Calvin's residence life staff: the dorms are full.

But, in resourceful residence life fashion, the college has addressed the issue. It has converted most of the coffee kitchens (rooms on each floor intended as community gathering spots) in the men's residence halls into rooms for resident assistants.

Calvin dean of residence life John Witte jokes that the overcrowding in the halls has been a summer stressor for him and his staff. But, he says, more students living on campus is exactly what the student life division at Calvin is looking for.

"There is research indicating that students who live on campus perform better academically," he says.

All told 17 coffee kitchens have been converted into dorm rooms, including being wired for telephone, computer and cable TV. All of the rooms will be inhabited by resident assistants.

"I knew that they would be accommodating, and indeed they have been," says Witte. "I think all the first-year students are going to have a pretty normal residence hall experience. No one's happy that we're losing the coffee kitchens because they're great community spaces, but it is hopefully a temporary displacement."

As a more permanent solution to the problem the student life division is looking at expanding the residential options on campus.

Shirley Hoogstra, Calvin's vice president for student life, says the demand to live on campus seems to increase every year.

"There are a number of reasons for that," she says. "Parents expect that colleges will provide housing options all four years. Also, with student schedules getting busier and busier, living on campus allows students to be close to the library, co- curricular meetings and classrooms, and that saves time. The community aspect of college is valued."

Hoogstra says her staff is eager to welcome students back to campus living and to do it well.

"We want the places where students live to say, 'We care about you and all aspects of your lives.' Having places to play, eat, work and plan together benefits everybody."

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