Off-Campus Policy Sees Some Changes
Oberlin students applying for off-campus housing will face no better odds this year compared to last year, as slightly more students are eligible for release and Residential Education expects that they will be competing for a fewer number of spots in the lottery. Additionally, a high number of students with an exemption or seven semesters in residence – which in itselff effectively guarantees them off-campus status -- will further limit the number of other students who can reside off-campus.
“I think [that is the] big issue this year,” says junior and Housing and Dining Committee member Christine Binder.
According to numbers released to the Review by ResEd and members of the Housing and Dining Committee, nearly 900 students were determined eligible for off-campus housing and assigned lottery numbers earlier this year. Of this group, more than 200 students have exemptions or have lived more than seven semesters on campus. ResEd estimates that it will release 400 students.
All part-time, married and/or commuter students, among some other students, are given exemptions by ResEd and not required to live on campus. Additionally, students who have lived more than seven semesters on campus are released from housing requirements first, and because this first pool of students is smaller than the number of students ResEd needs to release, all applicants with seven or more semesters are expected to be released from campus housing requirements.
Further complicating matters is uncertainty about how many students eligible for off-campus housing expect to graduate before next year. Assistant Director for Housing Administration Ehrai Adams wrote in an e-mail to the Review, “100 or so [students in the pool] are graduating but had not filed their intent forms with the registrar’s office.”
Juniors interviewed by the Review had mixed feelings about entering the off-campus housing process for the first time. Conservatory junior Miller Tinkerhess appeared unworried about his housing next year.
“I’m pretty confident that next year I’ll at least get a spot in village housing, which is much better for me than living in a dorm,” he said.
However, not all were optimistic. Conservatory junior Tom Schneider told the Review that he was aggravated not only with the housing process, but with the policies and attitudes of Oberlin’s administration in general.
Of ResEd’s housing policy, Schneider said, “It doesn’t make any sense, because this year [admissions] enrolled too many freshmen.” He remarked that because of the overcrowding, the College had been threatening to place an additional student in his quad since the beginning of the semester. I’m just tired of it, I don’t want to deal with them any more.”
College junior Noam Yaillen also expressed unhappiness with the college’s policies. “It’s frustrating to see the college take more and more off campus housing away,” he said.
Despite the changes that ResEd has made to this year’s off-campus housing policy, some students remained unconvinced that administrators fully grasp how essential living off-campus is for seniors. “I wonder if the administration does not understand how important it is for kids to live together,” said College senior Sam Krulewitch, who had his housing plans disrupted by the off-campus lottery system last year.
Remembering the controversy surrounding last year’s housing process, when about 130 students were waitlisted for release, Binder said, “I think there will always be an uproar,” but stated that because administrators are aiming to make Oberlin a residential campus, the difficulties getting off-campus will remain.
The lottery process being used to determine which students will be released began last year, after more students applied for off-campus housing than ResEd was able to accommodate. However, the lottery is being held several months earlier than before, in response to student complaints about last year’s procedure.
Applications, which are due Wednesday, will be processed by ResEd and considered in two rounds. In the first round on Dec. 4, 300 students are to be released from campus housing. During the second round, which will occur in March, any remaining spots will be filled. Currently these additional spots are projected to total about 100.
As the deadline approaches, ResEd staff is becoming concerned about whether students understand the changes that have occurred to the policy this year. According to Director of Residential Education Molly Tyson, only about eighty students had turned in housing forms as of the beginning of this week. She said this number was significantly lower then in previous years.
“I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous,” Tyson said. “Maybe people are just waiting, and talking in their groups, and figuring out lottery numbers... but I also know that as we get closer to Thanksgiving break, students get busier and busier, and I don’t want this to fall off their radar.”
Housing and Dining committee member David Glusti is concerned that the earlier deadline may be causing confusion among some students. “I’m worried that students don’t understand that the policy has changed and that this is the only chance [to apply],” Glusti said.