One new residence hall is not enough

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By Shelby Tankersley

Oakland’s housing filled up fast last week—so fast that Housing is considering building more residence halls in order to meet the growing demand for dorm rooms.

“At the end of the first 24 hours of having housing sign up open, we were 499 contracts ahead of where we were at that time last year,” Director of University Housing Jim Zentmeyer said.

With Oak View’s rooms filling capacity in three minutes this year, on-campus living is at a premium. The need for dorms leaves some students with limited to no opportunities for places to live next year.

Because of the growing necessity, housing is currently tossing around some ideas to ensure that anyone who wants to live on campus has a fair chance of doing so.

The Plan

One option is to either renovate Hill House and Van Wagoner or tear them down to build a new residence hall.

“The cost of a decent renovation of Hill and Van Wagoner versus building a new hall would be virtually the same,” Zentmeyer said. “So we were pretty quick to determine that renovating Hill and Van Wagoner would not be a viable option.”

If rebuilding both halls is the preferred option, Housing would be short two residence halls while construction took place, meaning even less students would be able to live on campus.

“It usually takes about two to three years to do a project and I don’t think I can lose 390 beds for two to three years,” Zentmeyer said.

The other option would be to build another residence hall and dining hall on the south side of campus. Underused space in that area leaves viable room for building.

“It would create housing at an equal distance from the Oakland Center and there would be a new dining hall,” Zentmeyer said.

Zentmeyer said the new dining hall would be helpful to students who have classes on the southern end of campus who cannot make it back to Vandenberg Hall in enough time to eat meals. The addition of a dining hall benefits students in the long run without creating temporary housing issues.

While this additional hall would slightly reduce the sense of community on campusit would serve as a shorter walk for students with classes in Pawley Hall and Varner Hall. On top of that, the hall would make use of the underused parking lots on the southern side of campus.

What students think

Because housing fills up so quickly, there are a number of commuters who are unable to experience on-campus living. But there are other factors stopping them as well.

“I’m not in housing because I can’t afford it,” OU freshman Megan Luttinen said. “I think [new housing] would be cool but unless they changed the prices, I probably wouldn’t live on campus.”

If a new hall was built, prices are estimated to stay consistent or even increase. The Oak View Hall, the newest living hall, costs about $500 more per semester than the other dorms.

Needing a large wallet for dorm costs, students will also need decent walking shoes. The new hall will be on the southern side of campus, across campus from the rest of the halls and most other buildings.

“Personally, I wouldn’t want to live there because it’s be away from the other dorms,” OU freshman Claire Hendon said. “If I was a math or science major I might be more interested in it because it’s by those buildings.”

Though Housing’s decision is still unknown, new residence halls will be in OU’s future. As an up and coming university, OU and Housing works to accommodate all residents looking to live on campus.