Transitional Housing Poor Solution to Over-Enrollment

As we enter the 2021–22 school year, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic seems more manageable than it did last year. While I now have some hope for a normal college experience, the start of the semester has hardly been smooth, with many students unable to receive the housing they wanted. Some students have even been placed into transitional housing — spaces originally intended for other purposes that have been converted into dorm rooms.

Due to over-enrollment, the small liberal arts school I thought I was attending has gotten a lot bigger. As a result, the Office of Residential Education staff had to deal with the chaos of assigning housing to more Oberlin students than normal. Phones were ringing off the hook, and concerned parents and students were left on hold and told to fill out a Google Form to get on waitlists for dorms.

The majority of my teammates and classmates were shocked and outraged to learn that none of our housing requests were honored. One of my teammates even had accommodations from her doctor and still had to be placed on a “priority waitlist” to be considered for a single in any dorm on campus. You would think that athletes would be easier to accommodate because we were either the first ones to arrive on campus or, for those taking classes during the summer semester, stayed on campus during the September break. However, it was harder for ResEd to give us our desired housing selections due to over-enrollment with first-year students. Asking ResEd to get on a waitlist seemed pointless because other students just like me were having the same problem.

Unfortunately, applying for housing with two other roommates did not work in my favor. I had no choice but to deal with the housing assignment originally given to me. Once I stepped into my assigned open triple, which had been a lounge area for students last year, I discovered that the furniture setup could not accommodate the space the three of us needed. The room lacked the necessary coverings for outlets and had exposed wiring located near the beds. Moving into a space that was not ready to be settled in, especially with two other roommates, became unbelievably stressful. My roommates and I were constantly stepping over things, invading each others’ space, and closing the blinds because our window faced the South patio. The dorm seemed unbearable to live in, especially with the constant construction occurring right outside our windows. With all of those problems arising, along with the stress of starting classes, I knew that my roommates and I were in need of immediate assistance.

When the first week of classes began, I discussed the problems with my parents, and they quickly got to work making many calls. In just a matter of days, my father found someone to help. Andrea Stone, an interior designer from Wooster, Ohio, owns a business called UnComplicated Designs LLC. I gave her the dimensions of the room and the furniture to draw up a floor plan that would help with space efficiency. She sent me a 3D and 2D version of the floor plan in just 24 hours. My roommates and I picked a day that we were free to rearrange the room and quickly got to work. It took me from Sept. 20 — the day I received permission to move into my permanent housing — to Oct. 11 to settle into my room completely. This was only possible with the help of my parents and UnComplicated Designs.

I understand that Oberlin College is not the only academic institution struggling to go back to normal. All schools are encountering difficulties working through this seemingly never-ending pandemic. Even though the move into my permanent housing wasn’t ideal at first, what is most important is that we work through these issues together. I thank ResEd for listening to my issues when I needed assistance, and I will always thank Andrea Stone for putting me first in creating a living space that is equally space efficient for all three of my roommates.