ResEd Housing Crisis Adds Stress to Student Lives

Honestly, I expected this past week to suck from the beginning. Housing selection Wednesday, class registration Thursday, group project due Saturday; just one stressful thing after the other. But — quite like the cat that keeps dragging in dead birds — this week was a gift that kept on giving. This week, the already-precarious housing situation at Oberlin got worse.

Speaking from experience, it feels like everything that could have gone wrong did. Housing this year was a mess from the start, as reported in the Review last week. I got assigned my housing selection time for May 4. It was during one of my classes, which was inconvenient, but not awful. Then the morning of May 2, the software crashed. My stress levels got a jolt, but I was assigned a new time that night: the afternoon of May 11, which I thought was relatively early in the process. At about 4 p.m. on May 10, I ran into a friend who complained that Burton Hall was the only dorm left when she had registered earlier. I wasn’t too concerned though because I wanted to live in Burton anyway. 

I was wrong to think that there was nothing to worry about. Later that day, when I walked into my knitting ExCo at 5:30 p.m., I checked my phone and saw an email telling me I had been put on a “waitlist” for housing. I panicked. The use of the word “waitlist” implied that I would not be getting housing unless someone else dropped out. Understandably, I was alarmed. I excused myself from class and walked back to my dorm, sobbing the whole way. I am still unsure what the appropriate response to getting that email was, but I wanted to cry, so cry is what I did.

I am a very anxious person. I like my plans, and when those fall through, it stresses me out, especially when I have no idea what is happening or if there is nothing I can do to fix it. I was prepared for housing. I had backups for my backups. I had a plan, and then that plan got steamrolled. It was in no way my fault or something I could control. This stressed me out more than anything else this year.

I spent the rest of the night stressed and emotional. I was processing a sudden loss of stability in my life while trying to continue to function and figure out what was happening. My Residential Assistant wrote an email to ResEd on my behalf. My friends proposed places for me to live — a room we found in the bike co-op, the common room of my boyfriend’s quad, and fellow FenceCo student and Review Opinions Editor Emma Benardete’s Subaru. (In case someone from ResEd is reading this: I am joking. These are not okay places to make students live.)

I awoke the next morning to a response from my RA and her boss explaining the situation. Apparently, my selection appointment had been canceled — ResEd had run out of housing, which I suspected was the case but hadn’t yet confirmed. I would be getting placed somewhere — just later than expected. When “later” is has yet to be specified, which is annoying but significantly better than the communication I got directly from ResEd. Now that I have heard an actual explanation and gotten some sleep, I am no longer angry. I am exhausted. I lack the energy to be anything but mildly frustrated and stressed. 

If ResEd had simply said, “lol ran out of housing, we’ll figure it out eventually, ttyl,” that would have been a better email than what I got. I was told, “Please do not be alarmed,” and that I was being put on a “waitlist.” This is the most alarming thing I could be told about my housing situation. I have received breakup texts with more clarity and concern for my well-being.

 What I heard from ResEd was confusing, stressful, and last-minute; it did more to hamper than help me. Additionally, there was a continued failure of technology that made this process so much more fraught than it needed to be. I have faced a significant strain on my mental health in the wake of these developments. Some stress was expected, but an intense anxiety attack over unclear and messy communication should never have happened. I do not hate ResEd, but I think their system is deeply flawed, perhaps even broken, and it is causing students more stress than necessary.