Finding a place to call ‘home’

Editorial cartoon by Stephanie Williams

By Martha Harrouff

It is a truth universally acknowledged that current housing conditions at Olivet are crowded and, in many ways, confusing.

In spite of purchasing new apartments for male students, turning study rooms into dorm rooms, and determining that resident assistants will room with each other, Olivet has had to discover yet more locations in which to house students.

For example, Olde Oak, traditionally reserved for upperclassmen honors housing, has in part become overflow housing for female sophomores.

For the record, these sophomore girls were on the waiting list and could not sign up for housing in McClain, as it is completely full this semester. As a result, they are living in the Oaks apartments that were left open after upperclassmen housing sign-ups.

This is a far cry from conditions my sophomore year two years ago.

Back in those days, if you wanted to live in McClain, you had no problems getting in. In fact, you could even have a room all to yourself, if you were willing to pay the higher price.

Even with the fourth floor being used as freshman housing during the 2009-2010 academic year, in which I lived in McClain, there were still open rooms.

This is not the case any longer, as female transfer students are being housed in first floor Nesbitt due to McClain’s maxed-out status.

While other examples of the current housing shortage at Olivet could be elaborated upon, what is more important is determining why this problem is occurring. The most obvious answer is that there are more students now than in previous years, which has been evidenced by the ever-growing size of the entering freshman class for the past three years.

“We believe. You belong here,” has become a catchphrase around campus, with admissions staff working increasingly harder each year to attract greater numbers of students to Olivet.

While it is not necessarily bad to attract new students to Olivet, I do feel that ambitious recruiting and basically open admissions, at a time in which housing is limited, crosses the line of appropriateness.

Another issue within the topic of campus housing is on-campus housing being given to ONU staff.

Obviously, resident directors receive on-campus housing, which is only right, given their jobs. But why should staff members who are in no way related to the everyday workings and responsibilities of managing a dorm or apartment building be given campus housing?

I have no qualms with these individuals receiving a housing allowance, which would achieve the same end as providing them with on-campus housing. However, does it not seem odd that these individuals are receiving apartments to live in when accommodations for returning students cannot be found without rearranging the infrastructure of ONU student housing?

I am not complaining about the issue of student housing at Olivet. All of us still have somewhere to live, without having to commute or live in a cardboard box on the Weber lawn. Olivet has not made my life inconceivably difficult nor caused me to have anxiety attacks due to current housing conditions (even though I have been irritated that non-honors students are living in the Oaks, but I digress).

Nonetheless, I do feel that there are issues present – such as record numbers of incoming freshman and providing on-campus housing for university employees – that require some thought and possibly a change in admissions policies and/or the purchase or building of new housing facilities.

And, this should probably happen soon, before we begin signing up for camping spots on campus based upon the size of our tents.

For the record, I claim a spot on the McClain lawn by the gazebo.

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