As more and more upperclassmen express their disdain for the lack
of off-campus housing available to them, the College is quietly
preparing its solution.
Many students look forward to becoming upperclassmen because of
the freedoms the status entails, and no freedom is more anticipated
than the ability to live off-campus. The College, however, recognizes
the great stress that off-campus housing has on a small town like
Oberlin. As a result, the College has attempted to bridge the gap
between off campus housing and dormitory life by building apartment-style
buildings around campus that will serve as dormitories, but with
larger rooms, private bathrooms and less supervision from Residential
Life and Dining Services.
“We have tried to learn why students like living off campus,
and what we can do to offer them the amenities that interest them,”
Associate Dean of Residential Life and Dining Services Kim Lafond
One building, the Firelands, located behind Rax, recently purchased
by the College, will open next year. It will house 85 upperclass
students in one and two bedroom apartments. “It sits in Oberlin’s
theater district,” Lafond joked.
The College considers this project a commitment to satisfying the
needs of a modern student body. The College has always considered
itself committed to being a residential college, and views the construction
of the new apartment buildings as satisfying that commitment. “It
is something we have to do for the students,” Lafond said.
“It’s an investment in the College’s future.”
While the College waits to see whether or not the Firelands is a
success with the student body, plans are underway to select an architect
to construct another apartment building near campus that will house
Lafond stressed that students are welcome to discuss the plans with
him and with the Administration. “This decision is certainly
open to the input of the student body,” he stated. To that
end, the Administration is planning several meetings to discuss
with students what they would like in the new housing.
Living in the apartments would be much like living off campus, except
the rent would be due to the College instead of to an Oberlin landlord.
This amount has not yet been determined.
Also still up in the air is the location of the new apartments.
The school owns large amounts of land in the area, and so the location
of the new building will simply be something for the Board of Trustees
to decide. While the style of building is also yet to be decided
upon, certain elements have been identified as priorities. “The
building will certainly be environmentally friendly,” Lafond
The College hopes that this endeavor will be a step towards a living
situation more conducive to current student needs. It also hopes
that the new construction will help offset the increasing need for
housing on campus as admission statistics continue to grow.
“Whether this will get students out of lounges, I don’t
know. That is up to the size of the incoming freshman classes,”