Overbooked UT Dorm Rooms Could Leave Students in Limbo

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UT Campus, Knoxville (WVLT) - In less than a month, a virtually empty UT campus will be packed with thousands of students.

Many will be moving into dorms, some for the very first time. But it seems not everyone will have a permanent place to call their own.

Where will they stay, and how long will they be left in limbo?

Volunteer TV’s Stacy McCloud found out.

Thirteen resident halls spread out over UT’s campus allow the university to squeeze in everyone that wants one, a dorm room, with a limited waiting list.

So why did hundreds of students, already contracted to housing accommodations, get a letter explaining that they may, or may not, have a permanent room come the start of the school year?

"Every year we overbook the resident halls to accommodate as many students as possible, knowing that some students won't claim rooms in the fall,” Ken Stoner, Executive Director of University Housing, wishes there could be a better way to word the letter, but says it is what it is. "Just like airlines overbook flights knowing some passengers won't show up to claim tickets, we do the same."

Overflow letters are actually a routine process, but how are they sure they wont' have hundreds of students in limbo come the end of August?

"It's a numbers game,” says Stoner.

Statistically they look at patterns from years past and determine what number is safe.

They factor in the fact that most upper classmen only reserve dorm rooms as "Plan B", then cancel them come the cut off date in July.

Others rooms empty up when students back out of their contract or simply don't show up.

About 100 students are scheduled to be without a permanent room come move in day, the same number as last year.

While it may seem like a pain, officials have limited complaints.

Because temporary rooms are still in dorms, they're simply student study lounges transformed, with all the same amenities, the difference, a little more space.

"They will say if it's okay with us, let us stay,” Stoner says.

Next year there should be an entire dorm worth of extra space.

Laurel Hall is out of pocket this year while it's being converted from "family student housing", to under classman housing.

The university is also in the planning phase of a brand new dorm, scheduled to be complete by 2010.