Ohio University received more than 100 student housing contracts over capacity for the 2022-23 academic year, altering future housing plans at OU.
The university’s housing programmatic capacity for 2022 is 7,230 beds. The university also has 122 beds in expanded capacity, meaning that those spaces are now being used as triples, which they were originally designed as.
To extend its capacity further, OU offered 119 beds at River Park Towers.
Audrianna Wilde, a junior studying journalism who is a senior resident adviser, or SRA, for Bryan Hall, said the limited availability has made it hard for students to get room changes.
“What I've heard is that we are basically at max capacity,” Wilde said. “I mean, what you've just seen on campus is people are living in apartments that are rented out and stuff like that. So there's very limited capacity for moving around.”
Jneanne Hacker, executive director of Housing and Residence Life, said OU usually wants around 100 “swing spaces” to complete room changes.
Hacker said at the start of the academic year, some students did not come to campus, enabling the university to start accepting room change requests Aug. 18, two weeks earlier than its normal procedure.
The limited housing also raised questions about isolation rooms for students who test positive for COVID-19. Students who test positive for COVID-19 are given the option to go home to isolate or are offered an empty room provided by the university.
“The majority of our students will isolate at home, but should we have a student who is positive and they can't transition, we have an on-campus housing plan,” Hacker said. “We have a variety of spaces in our residential portfolio that we can transition a student who tests positive for COVID-19 into an isolation space to fulfill their isolation term.”
As a replacement for the meal delivery system OU Culinary Services used last year, a new system allows a friend to deliver a meal from the dining hall. If there is no one to deliver the meals, Hacker said a residence adviser will be available to help.
The limited capacity is a result of the demolitions to OU dormitories. There were 8,414 students residing on-campus in 2015. In 2016, OU’s Board of Trustees submitted a comprehensive housing master plan which included the demolition of several dormitories on South Green.
Those dormitories included Brough, Cady, Foster and O’Bleness House, which were demolished in 2016; Fenzel and Martzolff House in 2017; Armbruster, Atkinson, Smith and Weld House in 2019; and most recently, Scott Quadrangle in 2021.
Another 261 beds are unavailable for the 2022-23 academic year due to the current renovations being completed in Gamertsfelder Hall, according to a previous Post report.
Moving forward, Shawna Wolfe, the associate vice president for university planning, said the university is looking to adhere to a programmatic capacity of 7,465 students. The limit is calculated based on historic capture rates and an estimate of a steady 4,000 first-year students each year.
Wolfe said the university is looking to move to phase two of the master plan after the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays. New dormitories will be available and the renovation of Gamertsfelder Hall will be complete, following phase two.
Once phase two is complete, the university will surpass its desired number of beds, allowing OU to continue dorm renovations and finish demolishing the mod-style dorms of back south while still being at its desired programmatic capacity.
“As we start thinking about the programming of our future construction, we want to ensure that we can create a similar configuration because we know the value that is offered to students who live in these mod-style facilities,” Hacker said.
Correction appended: A previous headline on this article stated that Ohio University’s on-campus residents exceed capacity by 129 students. The number stated was incorrect. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated the incorrect number of beds offered by the university to students. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.