After three years of declining enrollment at the University of Mississippi, multiple floors of freshman residence halls remain unoccupied, and others do not reach capacity. Brown Hall, another freshman dorm, will no longer be available to students as an on-campus living option for the 2020-2021 school year, and two floors of Crosby Hall, a female freshman residence hall, have been empty since students moved out after the 2018-2019 school year.
John Yaun, the university housing director, said Brown will close for the year to maximize spaces in other residence halls and “build strong, vibrant communities.”
“The common practice of adjusting for changes in occupancy rates is part of several strategic decisions student housing is exploring to ensure its commitment to providing safe, comfortable communities for its residents and environments where students can learn and thrive academically,” Yaun said.
Total enrollment across all University of Mississippi regional campuses and the medical center was 22,273 students this year, which is 817 fewer students than were enrolled last year. This was a decrease of 3.5%, a higher percentage than previous years, and many current Brown Hall residents said the drop in enrollment is evident in their residence hall.
“It’s pretty empty,” Sam Nestor, a freshman general business major, said. “I live on the first floor, and on a regular basis, I only see the same five or six people in the dorm.”
Several other freshmen who live in Brown Hall reported multiple vacant rooms and an entire unfilled floor.
“Nobody lives on the third floor,” Reed Norwood, a freshman general business major, said. “I live on the second floor, and, on my side of the hallway, it’s just me and my roommate. The room next to me has two guys in it, and then the room on the opposite side of us has one guy in it. The rest of our wing of the building is empty.”
Norwood also said that the living conditions inside the building are not great and that there has been an ant problem since he moved into his room in the fall. Norwood is just one of many freshmen who have reported ant infestations in their dorms this year. Other complaints have come from Pittman, Stockard, Hefley and Stewart Halls.
Luke DiMella, another Brown Hall resident, said the dorm is not at capacity, and there are many single-resident rooms.
DiMella also said he was not surprised that Brown Hall will be closed for the upcoming school year.
“I mean, look at it,” he said. “It’s one of the older dorms on campus, so it’s pretty bad. I wouldn’t want to live here if I didn’t already.”
The residence hall was built in 1961 and has alternated in housing male and female students since its completion. It is also the site of the Campus Package Center, which will stay in operation next school year.
Yaun said the dorm will reopen to students in future semesters.