University deals with housing dilemma
Published: Friday, August 24, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 24, 2012 00:08
With the largest-ever first-year class arriving on campus, Miami University is over capacity of students it can house.
On move-in day, the university was at 104 percent occupancy, according to Brian Woodruff, director of housing options, meals and events.
“We were more than 250 students over what we call our standard occupancy,” Woodruff said.
According to Woodruff, one key issue that led to the housing shortage was the large first-year class size.
“The significant issue that’s gotten us to where we are is just the large [first-year] class,” Woodruff said. “We’re very happy that so many people are interested in Miami, but it does cause some situations that we have to work through.”
Woodruff also said a number of sophomores lost their approvals to live in off-campus fraternity houses, which also contributed to the housing problem.
According to Woodruff, students without housing assignments have been placed in rooms in Hepburn, Dennison and Dorsey halls, as well as in apartments in the Miami Commons apartments off campus and on a volunteer basis with Resident Assistants (RAs), who typically have single rooms.
RAs who took the offer were offered $200 per week for the period of time they have a roommate as well as up to $500 in fall semester textbooks, Woodruff said.
Senior RA Ramune Bartuskaite said she received an email in the summer with the opportunity to take a roommate, and decided to take the offer.
As an architecture major, Bartuskaite said she is often out of her room and in the architecture studio.
“I know that I’m not in my room all the time so I knew having a roommate wouldn’t be a problem,” Bartuskaite said.
Despite some challenges, Bartuskaite said having a roommate hasn’t negatively affected her RA duties.
“I think it’s fine,” Bartuskaite said. The only thing that is kind of a challenge is keeping my door open [for residents],” Bartuskaite said.
According to Woodruff, the university is working to get students out of temporary housing as quickly as possible and expects students to be out of the temporary housing in Hepburn hall by the end of this week.
“It’s completely our goal to relieve the pressure as quickly as we can,” Woodruff said. “We absolutely have just been working diligently to give these students…their permanent rooms.”
Woodruff said rooms will open up as the university determines which students did not show up this semester, as well as if students withdraw, transfer or leave to study abroad.
Though students are being placed in permanent housing as soon as possible, one male sophomore RA said he’s worried his roommate might be around longer than the few weeks he was initially told.
“They were kind of deceptive about what ‘temporary’ actually was,” he said.
The RA said he could tell the housing situation wasn’t good when even administrators appealed to the RAs during their August training.
“We could tell it was desperate,” he said. “They kind of put us on the spot.”
The RA also said that with residents frequently stopping in and out, he thinks his roommate feels like he can’t stay in the room for long.
“It’s a huge inconvenience for everyone involved,” the RA said.
While Housing, Dining, Recreation and Business Services (HDRB) and the Office of Admissions communicate about first-year sizes, Woodruff said this year’s housing situation could lead to even more communication in the future.
“We do coordinate with them, but it is true that we’ll be having even more discussions now after this year, about just how important it is that we do all work together,” Woodruff said.
According to Woodruff, overall students and families have been understanding about the issue.
“In general…we really have seen parents and students both being very flexible, very patient, very understanding of the situation,” Woodruff said.
Woodruff said the university is working hard to place students in permanent housing and making them comfortable in the meantime.
“It’s our job and it’s our pleasure to provide comfortable safe places for students to live,” Woodruff said. “We are working very hard to get students out of temporary spaces, and [for] the ones who are there that we’re making it as nice as we can for them.”