RHA forum brings transparency and information about housing situation on campus

Cameron Ward, Staff Writer

If you’ve been around campus recently, you’ve probably seen or heard news about developments in Case Western Reserve University’s residential life. From the construction happening around the South Residential Village (SRV) since the beginning of the semester, to the uncertainty last semester regarding the availability of upperclassman housing, campus living is on the forefront of students’ minds.

In an effort to improve transparency, hear feedback and answer any questions about the many ongoing programs that impact residential life, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) hosted an open forum in mid-November. Run panel-style, this event featured Vern Rogers, executive director of the Office of University Housing; Loretta Sexton, associate director of the Office of University Housing; and Skip Begley, director of the Office of Residence Life. This array of speakers allowed students both to ask questions about pertinent issues on campus and put some names to faces within campus departments for future direction and insight. 

Khushali Desai, a third-year student living on campus who went to the event, said that it was very informative, and was looking forward to more events like it in the future to help build “transparency and greater connection between students and housing administrators.” By merely looking over the summary flier, which reviewed the topics of conversation for the event, it can be seen that some valuable insight was achieved. 

The summary is divided into five sections covering the experience of the panelists, some general RHA reminders, current projects happening in residential life on campus, future goals and RHA’s final input on the panel. Multiple topics were discussed within this framework.

For upperclass on-campus housing, the reselection process, which allows students to pick the rooms they are already staying in—and was suspended due to COVID—may be coming back next academic year. It will feature some updates, with more information to come out in January.

For upperclass off-campus housing, due to the new Southside construction, as well as the upcoming construction to replace Yost Hall, it is unlikely that more housing will be constructed within the immediate future due to lack of funds. To help students who will be living off-campus, though, the Housing Office is also expanding to include a new position of off-campus coordinator, who will provide tips and insight, help upperclass students look for housing and overall coordinate a smooth process to transition to living off campus. In addition to this, it was reaffirmed that all first and second-year students will have guaranteed housing.

Current projects in the offices focus on renovation, improvement and sustainability. This includes replacing furniture and locks with updated versions, improving aesthetics and creating sustainable energy systems. Energy conservation is being built into newer buildings, but for older buildings, smaller changes such as lightbulb replacement is the focus. These projects are often fluid, which means advanced warning for students living in spaces receiving improvements are limited. This inconvenience is acknowledged by the offices, who are working on improving communication with students impacted by developments in their building. Notably, plans are developing to renovate the first-year dorms in the North Residential Village (NRV) following the completion of the new SRV dorms in fall 2024. The difficulty lies in finding a place for first-year students to live while renovations are completed. While originally there were plans to cycle through first-year students in the new SRV dorms while NRV dorms are being renovated, the planned increase in size of the student body due to President Kaler’s new policies has made that more difficult as all dorms will now be filled to capacity.

General safety on campus was touched on, in light of increased motor vehicle accidents on campus. RHA said that they may send out more information regarding motor vehicle safety soon.

Future plans include increasing access to information about disability accommodations, housing over break, meal kits and plans and a general improvement of the residential experience. The summary ends with the statement that COVID-19 and budget issues have reduced flexibility within the housing departments, but plans are back in motion, and the office is listening to student and community needs.

And finally, for anyone wondering why on-campus living is required for two years rather than one, the reason is historical and lies in the core of the undergraduate experience. Studies show that living on campus for two years improves student performance and helps cultivate a better college experience and community. 

The summary flier was sent to all those living on campus. If you live off campus and wish to see the flier, it can be accessed by emailing RHAexec@case.edu. If you missed this event but are interested in the insight it provided, be on the lookout for future events like this, as RHA continues to work with the Office of University Housing and the Office of Residence Life to provide transparency, increase sustainability and overall improve campus housing situations for students. As always, information about housing can be found at case.edu/housing.