Ohio University is preparing to house and feed a huge influx of freshmen this fall

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio University may see a record number of incoming freshmen this fall and administrators have spent the past couple of months figuring out how to house and feed them.

Jneanne Hacker, executive director for Housing and Residence Life, said her team “went back into our inventory, identified those spaces that by design have been built to be triples, but over the years we have been using them as doubles. We’ve converted them from doubles back into triple spaces.”

Ohio University has also made a contract with an off-campus housing apartment complex, River Park. The agreement allows sophomores to live in the same buildings and floors as the other students in their grade. They will also have apartments that come furnished and are the same cost as living in the dorms.

The outside of Nelson Commons
[Olivia Roman | WOUB]
With the increase in incoming freshmen and one freshmen dorm unavailable because it’s being renovated, Hacker said her team would rather have the freshman live a true dorming experience for their first year on campus. 

That’s why the sophomores who were originally assigned to sophomore housing in Read, Ewing and Dougan, were booted out and offered to either live in River Park or find their own off-campus housing. This is unusual, as OU has a policy that all underclassmen have to live on campus for two years if they are not commuting.

Hacker said that because the River Park apartments are adjacent to South Green, they truly serve as an extension of the campus and still provide students access to all those direct services they need.

Culinary services are reopening more dining spaces and cafes, along with continuing to use technology that allows students to order meals in advance, which they started implementing during the pandemic.

“I think the most significant is that in Nelson Court and the district over on West Green, when we open for lunch at 11 or 10:30 a.m., depending on the hall, we will remain open through the dinner hours,” said Gwyn Scott, the associate vice president for auxiliaries.

The university is also bringing back its food truck, “The Hungry Cat,” and other cafes in certain colleges or Nelson Commons, that were shut down because of COVID-19. 

With more open locations, Culinary Services said it will need more workers to staff those locations, but one good thing about the record number of new students is that finding new workers should be easy, Scott said.