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First-year students face tough housing decisions

Cait Wasmundt / Lantern reporter

First-years at Ohio State have the opportunity to choose whether they will live in residence halls for their second year, an option denied to students at some other universities.

With apartment-hunting season upon them, these first-year students have to make this decision after being on campus for only one quarter.

After being away from their homes for four months, students face the prospect of gaining more independence, which some are not ready for.

“I don’t think I’m mature enough to live off campus, to like pay monthly rent,” said Erika Dickinson, a first-year in exploration.

Dickinson said she is planning to live on campus for her second year. She named off-campus safety as one of her reasons for not pursuing signing an off-campus lease this month.

“I’m scared I’m going to get mugged,” Dickinson said. “If I’m at the library late at night studying, I don’t want to have to walk alone, I don’t want to be able to not walk home safely.”

With everyone looking for apartments in the same areas at the same time, leasing an apartment for the coming year can be a competitive process, a process that some underclassmen have decided to put off for another year.

“From what I’ve heard about limited availability after December and January, I’m planning on living in the dorms again,” said Hannah Henthorne, a first-year in English.

Other first-year students are currently looking for apartments or have already signed leases for next year, citing several reasons for wanting to move.

“It’s less money, you have more freedom and you have more private space,” said Claire Weaver, a first-year in international business.

Weaver has signed for an apartment on Iuka Avenue next year, but said she is concerned about the location.

“The building is surrounded by (fraternity) houses, so that will be interesting,” she said.

She admitted that living on her own will be overwhelming at first.

“Bills will be confusing,” Weaver said. “Like setting up my water and heat, I don’t know how to do that. But I’m excited to move off campus.”

While many students are looking forward to living off campus and with their new friends, issues can arise between students who sign leases after knowing each other for a short period of time.

“We have heard of students who sign leases with people who they don’t know as well as they might have hoped or simply too many people. We encourage all students to pick up an off-campus living guide in Suite 3106 Ohio Union. The living guide offers a ton of information for students who want to move off campus, including roommate agreements that we encourage students to fill out in advance of any problems that might arise in living with new roommates,” said Jeremy Dolan, off-campus community ambassador co-director and a fourth-year in sociology.

However, President E. Gordon Gee has made it a goal of his to require that first- and second years live in university housing. If Gee’s goal becomes reality, it is possible that some future freshmen will not have the option to live off campus.

“Living on campus offers a lot of benefits, the retention rate is much higher, the graduation rate is much higher. That’s the plus of living on campus; I think that it helps creates a more intellectual community,” said Willie Young, senior director of Neighborhood Services and Collaboration.

Young said it is not uncommon for first-year students who sign binding leases to run into problems down the road.

“In October, some people decide to live off campus, to live with people they hardly know, when they hardly know themselves,” Young said. “When you change your mind, it’s not easy to get out of because it’s a legal contract. If you fight with roommates when living on campus, you can just move down the hall. When you live off campus, it’s not that easy; make sure you know who you live with.”

Young also suggested that students bring their leases to Student Legal Services before signing any legal contracts.  

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