Housing shifts focus to loyal returners

The start of March means it’s time to sign up for housing again.  Returner registration opened up at midnight on March 1 and will remain open for the remainder of the week until Friday, March 4 at 5 p.m.  

Major changes to the organizational structure of the dorms were announced in an email that went out to all current residents on Feb. 16.  The email stated that starting next fall, the spaces in the newest residence building, Oak View Hall, that were previously given to non-honors college freshmen will now be offered as space for returning sophomores and upperclassmen.  

In addition, the floors previously allotted for freshmen in West Vandenberg will now be entirely sophomores and up.  

To make up for the loss of beds for freshmen in those to buildings, both Hill House and Van Wagoner will now be strictly freshmen dorms.  Hamlin will remain an entirely freshmen dorm.  

The reasoning for these changes is in alignment with the numbers of other college resident housing, Jim Zentmeyer, director of University Housing, explained.  

“If you go to a typical, residential university campus there’s generally… a 50, 30, 20 rule,” Zentmeyer said.

He explained that this meant that the resident community would be made up of roughly 50 percent freshman, 30 percent sophomores and 20 percent juniors and seniors.  

“Oakland University sort of turns those percentages on its ear,” Zentmeyer said.

Oakland’s beds on campus were made up of 43 percent freshman 22 percent sophomores and 34 juniors and seniors.  This information led housing officials to examine why there was such a drop of in the sophomore class.  

“I realize I’m making an assumption here, but one of the contributing factors I believe impacts this is that… we’re taking sophomores who were freshmen who only had four people sharing a bathroom, had the private suites in either Vandenberg or Hamlin, and we’re placing them in Hill and Van Wagoner,” Zentmeyer said.  

“I think that is a contributing factor to why we only have 22 percent of our beds filled by sophomores.”

Oak View Hall, Hamlin Hall and Vandenberg Hall, which are all available to freshmen, are all designed with larger rooms and have two to four people sharing a bathroom.  

Both Hill and Van Wagoner, previously sophomore dorms, had slightly smaller rooms with community bathrooms on the floor.  

“What we believe is appropriate to serve our freshman needs as well as our sophomore and above needs is to create that graduated housing,” Zentmeyer said.  “It does the honorable thing for the students that are making the decision to be faithful to us  by staying in housing.  We believe we need to do the same to them.”

To continue servicing the returners to housing, West Vandenberg will be receiving major renovations this summer.  

Zentmeyer said that plumbing will be replaced and the amenities will be upgraded.

The furniture will also be replaced by the furniture currently available in Oak View.  

According to Zentmeyer, housing is expecting big numbers again this year.  They work very hard to place every student that applies for housing on campus, but in past years they have had to place some students in the Extended Stay near campus and about 200 were placed on waiting list.  

“The administration continues to say this is a good problem to have,” Zentmeyer said. “It breaks my heart anytime we have to say ‘I’m sorry we’re going to have to wait until next semester.’”

For more information on University Housing, visit oakland.edu/housing/.