Housing offers room reassignment period

Michael Pearce, Editor-in-Chief

To increase social distancing in the residential halls, Oakland University housing is offering a room reassignment period.

Students who want a more socially distant experience living on campus can request reassignment to a vacant or less occupied room.

“Please note that this process is not intended to be utilized for room change purposes other than enhanced social distancing,” the official Housing email said. “Not all vacancies in University Housing will be offered during this process in order to maintain increased social distancing where possible.”

The room reassignment period runs from Oct. 19-30. Director of University Housing Jim Zentmeyer felt this process was needed to promote equity and proper health precautions.

“Some locations are set where you would have, say, one four-person suite fully occupied, then right next door to it you’d have a four-person suite with one person in it,” Zentmeyer said. “Rather than sitting on the status quo we thought it would be advantageous to offer up that space to our residential population.”

Rooms without anyone in them will be prioritized. If all empty rooms are filled, then four-person suites with one person will be next in line.

Housing had received individual requests to move, so it was decided to open the opportunity to all students who might have COVID-19 concerns. The Graham Health Center and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety have approved this plan.

“We thought it would be most equitable to make an announcement to the entire population so no one would get left out of the party,” Zentmeyer said.

Students must meet the prerequisite requirements to live in a certain building before their reassignment is approved. For instance, a freshman in Hamlin Hall could not be reassigned to the Ann V. Nicholson student apartments.

Students must list their requests on the form, including where and with whom they would like to live with. Each student is only offered one reassignment request each and switching rooms with a peer is not allowed.

If someone is receiving a new roommate, they will receive 24-hour notice before their new roommate picks up their key. The reassigned student then has the next 24 hours after their roommate is notified to pick up their new key.

According to Zentmeyer, Housing has received pushback regarding this decision. However, he believed the equity is the most important aspect of this decision when dealing with an imbalance of room occupancy.

“Bringing it up to 50% occupancy would be equitable,” he said.

According to Zentmeyer, health and safety studies recently have shown Housing that COVID-19 doesn’t spread as easily on shared surfaces, it spreads more through shared air and close contact.

Because of this, Zentmeyer and Housing believe that if distancing is followed, the reassignment process won’t further the spread of contagions.

If a student is alone in a four-person suite and they receive a new roommate, Housing will put them on the direct opposite side of the suite, to limit close contact.

“There’s got to be a sense of fairness in this as well,” Zentmeyer said. “It does not seem fair to have one person sitting in a four-bedroom apartment when right next door there are four people in a four-bedroom apartment.”

Since Housing has never done a room reassignment period like this before, it has no expectation of how many students wish to be reassigned.

After Oct. 30, all room assignments will be finalized. Once a student is reassigned, the decision is final.