Form generates confusion
Next year’s Residential Life and Dining forms left many students scratching their heads at the statement proclaiming that “all students are expected to live in college housing for six semesters of full time study or through the junior year for transfer students.” Many assumed this meant that those students who spent a semester or two abroad would never receive off-campus status because the time spent outside of Oberlin would not count toward the required six semesters.
“Oberlin is a community, and the dorm/co-op experience is not only an essential part of the Oberlin experience for the individual, but also is important for the social infrastructure that makes Oberlin such an incredible community,” Evan “”Bear” Kittay, president of class of 2007 said.
“I can understand mandatory on-campus living for first-years and, to some extent, sophomores, but to require six semesters of on-campus living is very restrictive,” Kittay said. “To implement a mandatory six semesters on-campus living policy would be contrary to the philosophies that Oberlin seems to stand for as an institution.”
However, ResLife claims that the information on the forms is deceiving and everything is one big misunderstanding.
“The intention was to say that this is where we are moving, but not until we have all the housing properties,” Associate Director of Residential Life and Dining Service Michelle Gross said.
“What we were trying to say was that once we have all the properties available, there will be very few juniors allowed to live off campus,” Gross said.
Gross claims that there have not been any changes in ResLife policies since last year. Last year a fixed number of students were allowed to live off campus and next year this number will be the same. Depending on how many seniors want to move out of their dorms, some juniors always get the opportunity to live in town. Since Firelands opened and more than 13 houses were acquired for this year, the number of juniors living off campus has become smaller than compared to 2001-2002.
“The quota from last year is the same,” Director of Residential Life and Services Kim LaFond said.
The quota is determined either by the class rank, the number of credit hours acquired outside of Oberlin or alternatively, by the number of semesters spent on campus, but not by both simultaneously.
For example, a class rank six, the equivalent of a senior, can be guaranteed off-campus status.
The number of semesters makes things more tricky, though. ResLife counts the first semester spent on campus as the “zero” semester. The second semester is counted as “one” and the sixth semester is noted as “five.” So if somebody has the number “five” for their semesters, this means that they have spent the required six semesters on campus and would be allowed to live wherever they’d like.
“This is a confusing way of numbering semesters,” Gross said. “We are thinking of changing it for next year.”
Another rumor was also dispelled by the ResLife administration.
“If you are taking one or two semesters abroad, this still counts towards your on campus semesters,” LaFond said.
In this case, students will get credits that count toward their class rank and as soon as they have enough credits to achieve senior status, they can live off campus.
“Off-campus living is an important part of the college experience and should not be sacrificed for the school’s and town’s fiscal difficulties,” Kittay said.
“There are other alternatives for decreasing the cost of living in the town of Oberlin for non-students than building new dormitories.”