'Growing pains' challenge for Albany State

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The largest incoming freshman class in Albany State University history is causing on-campus housing problems, forcing school officials to boost dorm room occupancy from two to three students.

Incoming freshmen at ASU are required to reside on-campus unless they live within a 50-mile radius of the university. The housing crunch is temporary and will be alleviated next fall with the construction of two new residence halls.

"Over the last five years we have experienced enormous growth at Albany State University," ASU President Everette Freeman said. "The Board of Regents has asked that we open wide our doors. Perhaps 1,000 freshman will be on campus this fall, and our growing pains are causing housing problems."

ASU will break ground on the two new dorms on Aug. 20. Construction is scheduled to be complete by Aug. 18, 2011. In addition, the school is also building a new student center.

Total cost for the three buildings is $48 million. Students will pay for part of the costs with a $100 fee dedicated to the new construction. The remainder will be paid for with grant money.

"Tripling up the freshmen is not an easy decision, but we really don't have any other choice," VP for Fiscal Affairs Larry Wakefield said. "A year from now we will have the new residence halls. We hope this is a temporary problem."

Freeman, seeking to put a positive spin on the housing crunch, said, "Many of the incoming freshmen had their own single rooms at home. They will now have the opportunity to meet more of their classmates. We think they will gel, for community and learn to live together."

VP of Academic Affairs Abiodun Ojemakinde thinks the crunch, while inconvenient, is a positive for the university.

"This is a good problem to have for the university and the community," Ojemakinde said. "There is a direct correlation between the number of students and the impact on the local economy. The university has been proactive in regard to this problem. This can be a nurturing environment for our students."

Freeman echoed Ojemakinde's statement.

"Some may ask 'what's in it for Albany?'" Freeman said. "Not only will three new buildings add to the local economy, but studies have shown that our students contribute roughly $52 million a year to the local economy."