By Scott Strasser, September 5 2016 —
Nearly 2,000 new and returning students moved into residence at the University of Calgary on September 4.
The annual move-in day saw approximately 850 first-year students settle into their new homes on campus — a U of C record.
“It is obviously a crazy high number, 850 first-years,” said Residence Students’ Association president Kendra Toth. “My prediction is that maybe there are a lot more students from out of province and a lot more international students. Either way, it’s exciting that we have that many first-years. It means a lot more energy in residence.”
More than 1,200 first-year students applied to live in residence this year. First-year buildings Rundle Hall and Kananaskis Hall reached capacity, meaning freshmen students will also take up a floor of Yamnuska Hall, the U of C’s designated second-year residence building.
According to Residence Services associate director Randy Maus, around 700 first-years usually live on campus.
“I think a big part of it is the residence experience and the value it brings,” said Maus. “First year is a very important time to connect with other students. You need to build that support network to understand the campus.”
Maus said living on campus is a great option for new students.
“It’s the only time in your life you’re going to live with everybody who is going through a similar experience,” he said. “You have so many resources available in terms of mentoring, tutoring. It’s nice because you’re on campus, so it’s easier to plug into the campus experience and take in whatever club or activity you’re interested in.”
The high number of first-years in residence follows residence fee increases last winter. The largest hikes approved by the U of C Board of Governors — 5.75 per cent — affected first-year residence buildings Rundle Hall and Kananaskis Hall and came into effect May 1.
Those fee increases came despite Calgary’s average rental prices for apartments and condos going down this past year.
Maus said residence and the Calgary rental market can’t be accurately compared.
“A lot of people try to compare us as apples to apples in the market, but for what you get, it’s very different,” Maus said. “Yes, there’s a place to sleep, but considering all the community activities, the programming and the resources available in making that [residence] experience, it’s a little bit different.”
While many first and second-years still choose to live on campus, the same can’t be said for upper-year students.
Earlier this summer, Residence Services offered a $500 credit to students who could refer a friend to live in residence. The referral program applied to third and fourth-year students as well as graduates.
Maus said the referral program failed to pick up steam.
“It’s surprising, but our uptake was not very big in taking advantage of that incentive. We tried it because in our upper-year residences we had a little bit of extra room,” he said.
First-year political science student Andraya Holmes was among those moving into Rundle Hall on Sunday. She said living on campus made the most sense for her, as she’s from Vernon, British Columbia.
“[Residence] is close to everything and it’s the easiest option for me without a car,” she said. “I’m excited to hang out with everyone on my floor.”
Move-in day featured nearly 500 student and staff volunteers on hand to help students carry boxes to their new rooms.