As housing selection for the 2018–19 academic year wraps up, many students have been left disappointed as Residential Education struggles to meet demand for Village Housing and private dorm rooms after decommissioning 17 Village Houses due to disrepair.
The change is partially a result of Oberlin’s increasing financial austerity, as the College is reluctant to pour more money into dilapidated, depreciating houses each year.
All 11 of the Woodland Street Village Housing Units are set to be razed over the summer — however, some students were still allowed to register for these buildings due to a staff error. Those who registered were notified afterward that the selection had been a mistake and were then assigned a different housing time. The error has left several students feeling frustrated and disappointed with their new housing placements.
College junior Millie Cavicchio is one of the people who registered for a Woodland House, only to find out later that the choice was invalid. Now she and her group-mates are slotted to live in dorms for the 2018–19 academic year.
“ResEd closed the houses because they need to be repaired but didn’t open enough adequate housing for the seniors,” she said. “They will not open more off-campus housing spots until they overenroll the incoming class, even though it is not fair to have some of the students who waited until their last year to get a house not get one. No one is happy with the housing situation this year. Students are getting screwed left and right.”
Cavicchio added that though the group can apply to a waitlist for housing changes, which officially started accepting applicants yesterday, the changes to available housing and a general lack of adequate communication have put some students in a tight spot.
“I feel like the College is putting so many students in an uncomfortable living situation but do not care enough to change it because that would require having the College lose money on housing and dining plans,” Cavicchio said. “Housing is one of the main reasons students do not come to Oberlin and do not stay at Oberlin.”
Time slots for housing registration are generally organized by semesters in residence, with the idea being that students who have been at Oberlin longer get an earlier registration time. This spring, however, various mistakes throughout the registration process have meant that this is not always the case.
Typically, Village Houses are reserved for groups of seniors or those with four or more semesters in residence, offering them the chance to enjoy “the privacy and space of post-collegiate life while retaining many of the conveniences of college-maintained property,” according to Oberlin’s website.
However, many rising juniors and seniors scrambled to snag even private dorm rooms as housing registration began this week, such as singles and super quads, following the reduction in Village Housing options. Despite 17 houses being taken off-line — most of them with a capacity of four students — the number of students selected in the off-campus housing lottery remained unchanged, further limiting the housing options available to rising upperclass students.
“Dealing with ResEd has been one of the biggest headaches of the semester,” College sophomore Jason Hewitt said. Hewitt believed that he and a teammate had successfully registered for a super quad until receiving an email from ResEd that, due to a scheduling error, his registration was invalid.
“‘Sorry that you guys are being punished because of our huge mistake, but there’s nothing we can do for you now,’” Hewitt said that the email read.
College sophomore and Student Senator Justin Godfrey shared a registration experience similar to Hewitt’s. After registering for his preferred housing, his assignment was invalidated and he was asked to move into a less desirable housing assignment. However, he said he is grateful for the efforts of administrators to correct these mistakes.
“Was it a frustrating experience?” he asked. “Yes, but I absolutely commend everyone at ResEd for their patience. … I know our administration is attempting to make this as smooth of a process as possible, but there are clearly some things that need to be worked out.”
Even rising sophomores, unable to apply for any Village Housing, are bothered by the closures, as access to other types of housing is limited in a trickle-down fashion. College first-year Lee Khoury intended to register for a quad with three friends, but quad options closed more quickly than usual this week.
“I expected to get that quad because I had heard the demand for quads was not too high, and I was really looking forward to it,” Khoury said. “I particularly think that it is unfair that this class has been screwed over in this instance because we also got shafted with the dining plan.”
For some students, as the chaos of this year’s housing selection winds down, their thoughts are turning to how this can be prevented in the future.
“Finding creative ways to expand our housing options are absolutely essential,” Godfrey said. “My thoughts are that maybe we should think about making one of the dorms a senior/junior dorm with all super singles [and super] quads. I know some solutions are in the works and I would love for them to get students involved in finding creative solutions to the problems we are facing. For example, the Student Senate Capital Projects working group, which if any student wants their concern heard and want to be part of the solution, they should definitely come to their meetings.”
Representatives from Residential Education and the Dean of Students Office did not respond to Request for comment.