Your Guide to Enhanced Occupancy Rooms

At the University of Southern Maine, we know that for some of our students, not having a campus housing option can prevent them from being able to attend the University.

We believe it is important to provide a residential living and learning experience to all first-year, transfer, and returning students who require or desire University housing.

As such, the University has made a commitment to provide on-campus housing to as many students as possible, which sometimes requires assigning students to enhanced occupancy rooms. The majority of first-year students will be in enhanced occupancy rooms, and we have built enhanced occupancy rooms into our upper-class communities as well.

Yes! As a student in an enhanced occupancy space, you will receive a 20% discount on your room cost for as long as you are in the enhanced occupancy room.  For example, if you are in a double room assigned as a triple for the entire semester, you will pay a $2,270.00 room rate instead of the usual $2,839.00 rate. If your room is broken down into a standard occupancy space during the semester, this special rate will be prorated based on the date the room was de-tripled. Thus, the room charge would go up, depending on the date the room was de-tripled.

We have housed many students in enhanced occupancy rooms over a number of years, and have not seen a higher rate of conflict among these rooms as compared to our standard occupancy rooms. Most roommate conflicts arise when roommates have not discussed expectations, or do not address small problems early on, leading to larger issues later in the semester. Electronic communication (including snapchat, messenger, text and social media) rather than in-person discussion can also exacerbate conflicts.

We have all of our residents work with roommates to complete a Roommate Agreement form at the beginning of the semester to discuss common issues that often arise, such as guests in the room, sharing belongings, sleep schedules, room cleanliness, and more. Our best tip is that residents be honest during these discussions so that everyone is on the same page from the start. Roommate Agreement forms can also be updated throughout the semester as roommates learn about each other and their own needs. Honest and frequent communication is the key to navigating conflict, regardless of the room type.

Just like most of our students wouldn’t spend all of their free time in their bedrooms at home, we encourage students to take advantage of other spaces on campus. The dining hall, Brooks Student Center, study lounges, community lounges, our libraries, and even empty classrooms offer varied environments, whether residents are looking for a place to hang out with friends or have some quiet alone time. We also have outdoor community spaces that can be used during warmer months. Talk with your roommates about your schedules; often roommates have classes, club meetings, sports practices, work, or other time commitments that will all differ allowing each person to know when they can expect to have time alone in the room. If your schedule changes, give your roommates a heads up, especially if they are used to you not being home at that time.

We’ve had two years of residential living since the pandemic began, and have found through various metrics that on-campus living, with the precautions the university has in place with vaccination requirements, asymptomatic testing, and wastewater testing, has been able to limit our community risk. We have also found that those in our suite style living who have four people in a space have not seen a greater COVID risk versus those in traditional doubles or singles. Mitigation strategies include:
Asymptomatic testing
Wastewater testing
Easy access to rapid tests
Vaccination and Booster requirements
A team of experts connected to the Maine CDC

Getting to know each other and setting expectations early on are important steps for success for any group of roommates. Friends often think that talking about expectations with each other as roommates is unnecessary, which can lead to misunderstandings later. Make time to fill out the Roommate Agreement form and discuss each section fully, even if you feel like you know how someone would answer. Plan time to connect with each of your roommates both one on one and as a group. Grabbing dinner, attending a campus or community event, joining a club together, or going shopping for room decorations can all be great ways to connect with one another and make things feel less awkward.

Three beds (set up as a bunk bed and a single initially), three desks, three desk chairs, dresser and closet space, and a micro-fridge are provided. There will be a furniture change form emailed to students in enhanced rooms to request removal of the third desk or to have beds unbunked, as long as all residents of the room agree. Please note that the hall staff does not pre-assign furniture. We strongly encourage you to have an honest discussion with your roommates about how to fairly share the storage spaces and figure out sleeping arrangements before setting up the room. Additional wardrobes are not provided due to space restrictions.

While enhanced occupancy rooms are initially set up with a bunk bed to conserve space, there may be room to fit all three beds on the floor in some cases. This is not true of all buildings and rooms, however. Once you move in, and if you would like to request this, there will be a furniture change form emailed to students in enhanced rooms to request to have beds unbunked, as long as all residents of the room agree. We also have bed rails for the wooden bunk beds that can be provided upon request for the top bunk if needed.

There are a few factors involved, including the housing application date of all residents in the room, and Living Learning Community placements. While our goal is to de-triple as many rooms as possible, this process is dictated by our occupancy numbers, and not all students will be able to be de-tripled. Having one of your roommates move out does not automatically mean that your room will be de-tripled. Any spaces that are vacated should remain clean and clear of belongings to allow for a new roommate to be assigned as needed.

Your Resident Director or another member of our professional staff will let you know if your room is going to be de-tripled, and will coordinate the removal of extra furniture at that time. Any furniture that is removed without staff permission could result in a charge for that furniture piece at the end of the year.

You and your roommates should decide who will move out when a vacancy becomes available. You should discuss this sooner rather than later to reach a mutual agreement and so you all can be prepared when the option to move is offered. Your Resident Assistant (RA) and your Resident Director (RD) are willing to help facilitate these discussions.

If a mutual agreement cannot be reached, the room will remain enhanced and staff will move to the next room on the list.

If you would like to remain together in your enhanced occupancy space, you are welcome to do so. Just let your Resident Director know that you would like to stay in your current assignment and they will remove you from the de-triple list.

We know that transitioning to college is a stressful time for the majority of our students and that living with roommates is often a new situation that they have not had to navigate previously. Please know that we have a variety of support systems in place to help.

Each floor has a Resident Assistant (RA), who is a peer student who has been trained to build community, mediate conflict, facilitate discussions, and respond to issues that may arise.

Each building has a Resident Director (RD), who is a live-in professional staff member who can provide support and resources for any situations that may require additional assistance. In addition to our student Academic Mentors who live in the halls, the University has tutors and Academic Advisors who can help students with coursework, time management, organization skills, and other academic success tools.

Each student has access to clinical counseling through Counseling Services, including individual counseling sessions and support groups on a variety of topics. Health Services can meet with students and provide resources around getting adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, or treatment if a student is ill. Dining Services is happy to meet with students to help accommodate individual dietary needs.