In 2022, the University of Mississippi experienced record growth in the freshman class and outlined plans to accommodate that growth, however it remains to be seen whether housing will be adequate for students next year.
The university has a residency requirement for all freshman students, and the 2022-2023 freshman class is the biggest in the university’s history, totaling 4,480. Ole Miss’ enrollment has increased 5.1% since fall semester 2021, passing all other public universities in the state, each of which saw enrollment fall.
“Now our university has to manage the growth effectively, and university leaders are evaluating what’s needed to do that,” Eduardo Prieto, vice chancellor for enrollment management, said.
An increase in freshman students decreases the number of beds available for upper-classmen on campus.
“If we have an increase in first-year students, we might have to look at more upper-class students to live in the (campus) apartments, Campus Walk and Northgate, and fewer upper-class students in the residential buildings,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Director of Student Housing John Yaun said.
Converting double rooms to triple rooms is another way the university plans to fill housing requirements for the freshman class. According to the Department of Student Housing, “In order to accommodate the university’s growing enrollment and meet the housing needs for all incoming freshman students, the large double rooms offered in Martin Hall, Stockard Hall, Residence Hall 2 and Residence Hall 3 will be reverted back to triple rooms, housing three students.”
Northgate and Campus Walk Apartments currently are the only apartments operated as university student housing. There are other apartments not affiliated with the university that students can lease, but they may not be the most affordable.
With the growing enrollment, the university is racing to ensure that there is adequate housing for all students. One housing plan includes tearing down Kincannon Hall, which is unoccupied, and building three residential halls in its place. The three halls, designed to have 950 to 1,000 beds for students, would not be ready until fall 2026.
The university is also looking into developing a master lease.
“We are going to look at renting an entire apartment company off campus and have that available for upper-class students. We just submitted an RFP, which is the request process, so hopefully (there will be) 200 to 300 beds for next fall,” Yuan said.
Ensuring that there is enough housing for students is not the same as ensuring quality of housing, however.
“After living in Hefley (Hall) last year, the bar for cleanliness and overall quality of the place was low, but after getting settled I feel like I found a secret gem,” Zoe Keyes, a sophomore integrated marketing communications student and Northgate resident said.
Hefley Hall is one of the six traditional halls at the university. When asked about what needs to improve, Keyes cited safety.
“When I moved in, some people’s doors did not lock and were just open to whoever wanted to walk in. And while that is a simple maintenance mistake, it happened to multiple buildings,” Keyes said.
On the topic of living off campus, Keyes stated, “I honestly feel like there is not a lot of affordable housing in the Oxford area. When there is something affordable, it is either hard to get, or there is not a lot of information on the place.”