As Cleveland enters its coldest month of the year, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) at Case Western Reserve University has launched the Winter Clothing Rental program to help students stay warm this winter.
Since Jan. 22, students have been able to request hats, gloves and winter coats ranging from sizes small to extra-large by submitting confidential forms on the website rha.case.edu/winter. Once the forms are submitted, RHA will deliver the order within 24 hours to the students’ addresses. Students can keep the clothes until May.
According to third-year student Andrew Dupuis, the president of RHA, every CWRU student is welcome to participate in the program regardless of their financial background. Students who cannot afford winter clothing, international students who cannot carry many clothes with them when traveling abroad or students who do not expect the severe weather in Cleveland may find this program most useful.
“A decent winter jacket is 30 bucks, which for a lot of people is affordable,” explained Dupuis when asked how RHA came up with this program. “But for some people for whom coming to Case is already a bit of a struggle, buying a whole winter outfit isn’t within their price range. There are a lot of people who can’t afford this purchase.”
RHA did not accept donations for this program. Instead, they spent approximately $1,300 on buying the winter clothes to make sure that all clothes are unmarked and do not have any sign that indicates their rental status.
“We wanted to ensure that students felt capable of asking for help and support without feeling called out,” said Dupuis. “Therefore, the private request system is key, as is the unmarked delivery.”
Out of similar consideration, the rental delivery will be packed in regular boxes and left in the South Residential Village office, so they will “look like you order something from Amazon,” said Dupuis.
Upon checking out the clothes, students will sign a contract pledging to protect the clothes from damage. According to Dupuis, although longevity of the clothes is one of RHA’s major concerns in this program, students will not be required to pay for the damages or not returning their clothes.
“We decided that trusting campus to understand the necessity and intent of the program was key,” said Dupuis. “Case students are genuinely good, and won’t abuse systems put in place to help others.”
Returned clothes will be cleaned and repaired by RHA for next year. Dupuis is positive of the potential of this program and its future. According to him, RHA has money budgeted for this program for the next 10 years. The Winter Clothing Rental program will be ongoing to help students brave the Cleveland winter.
“It sounds like a good program,” commented fourth-year student Tejas Joshi. “It’s a creative idea. RHA is fulfilling its purpose on this campus [by] providing a service that no other student organizations are working on.”
Mia Huang contributed reporting.