Campus housing occupancy has been steadily increasing since a large drop in the fall of 2020.
Otterbein’s goal each academic year is to have 55% of traditional, full-time, undergraduate students residing in on-campus housing. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Otterbein was surpassing this goal with 1,265 students living in residential housing - a total of 55.6%. However, in the Fall of 2020, this decreased to 47%. This brought the number of students down to just 968.
Campus housing occupancy has steadily increased each year since, slowly climbing back to Otterbein’s annual goal. Currently, 1,047 traditional, full-time, undergraduate students live in Otterbein’s residential halls. This brings the percentage up to 52.5%, only 2.5% away from Otterbein’s goal of 55%.
When asked why this increase in residential students could be occurring, Tracy Benner, Otterbein’s Director of Residence Life, said, “As concerns for COVID and COVID restrictions lessen...we are moving back towards our goal of 55% traditional, full-time, undergraduate students [living on campus]”.
Otterbein President John Comerford said that, aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, finances could be another factor preventing more students from living in residential housing. With that in mind, Otterbein will be providing more housing grants for first-year students as well as undergoing additional campus renovations.
Comerford expressed the importance of students living on campus, believing that they were more likely to graduate.
“Living on campus really speaks to the ability to be social beings and be involved," Benner said.
President Comerford agreed with Benner’s statement and added, “A student who lives on campus is generally - not always - more connected to campus”.
When asked when the goal will be met once again, Benner indicated that she could only estimate that it would take a couple of years to reach Otterbein’s goal of 55% again. She expressed that the ideal situation would be to have every bed in every residential hall filled, while aiming for 1,295 students living on campus.