When spring admit and freshman human biology major Sarah Elmashat first learned she would be living in a renovated lounge in Pardee Tower, she was concerned because she didn’t know what the room looked like or what accommodations would be included.
“I was just worried because I didn’t have any information on what the set-up was going to be like, but moving in and seeing everything there and making it homey just made it feel a lot better,” Elmashat said. “There’s a lot of positives to it too. We have a bigger room than an average freshman in Pardee.”
About 50 spring admits moved into renovated study lounges last week due to a lack of available on-campus housing, according to USC Housing. In a statement to the Daily Trojan, USC Housing Senior Associate Director Christopher Ponsiglione said the housing office has received mainly positive comments from spring admits assigned to lounges so far.
“Feedback from most students is that they are pleased with their Housing assignment, especially those that were assigned to traditionally high demand buildings like New/North and South Residential Colleges,” Ponsiglione said in the statement.
Freshman Nicole Liebeler, a spring admit majoring in law, history and culture, is situated in a Fluor Tower lounge. Liebeler said she also had concerns about what bathroom she would use and how much storage space would be available.
Since moving in, Liebeler said she hasn’t experienced any problems with the accommodations. While the lounge doesn’t have closets or bureaus like traditional dorms, she said there are clothing racks and drawers for storage.
“I’ve stayed in dorms in summer programs, and it just feels like one of those, which is totally fine for freshmen housing,” Liebeler said. “I’ll only be in there for a semester. It’s convenient, and it’s in a good place so that’s what I’m really concerned about.”
Ponsiglione also said that as other housing options become available, the spring admits will be moved into permanent housing.
For the time being, however, some freshman residents are upset over the loss of their shared spaces.
When freshman international relations and art history major Sophia Ceniza’s New North Residential College study lounge was converted into student housing, everyone on the floor lost their lounge.
“The lounge has become for everybody on my floor … this place for cultivating community where we all study, where we eat, where we talk, where we can spend social time together,” Ceniza said. “It’s become a useful space for every single person on the floor, and so finding out our lounge is going to be taken away was kind of devastating for everyone.”
Freshman business administration major Sophie Antebi, who also lives on the third floor in New North, said she was sad to learn that the lounge would be converted into student housing.
“Obviously it’s upsetting to us that we lost our lounge because it was a nice community space for people to go do their homework or hang out,” Antebi said. “The only reason they took away our lounge is because there wasn’t enough student housing in other places to put people, so I think USC either needs more housing or shouldn’t admit too many students.”
On Dec. 6, Ceniza wrote an email to USC Housing and New North Residential College explaining the significance of the lounge to the residents and asking for accommodations to replace the converted space.
Ceniza and 19 other residents signed the email, which also said that other lounge spaces they had access to were “inadequate for studying and homework” because they didn’t have tables, desks or other seating arrangements.
To fix this problem, Ponsiglione said USC Housing furnished the lounges to create communal study areas.
“Housing placed more study specific furniture in the many remaining lounges to work towards meeting the needs of the current residents,” Ponsiglione said.
Ceniza also said that she and the girls on her floor think their communal bathroom will be overcrowded since more residents have to share the two working toilets and four showers.
“I think a concern for a lot of girls and people in general [is that] you spend so much money to be able to utilize USC Housing,” Ceniza said. “At minimum it should provide things like a bathroom that’s not overcrowded and a lounge space where you can work.”