UA’s Off-Campus Student Services held its annual housing fair in the Union on Wednesday, March 4, which gave students critical information on finding and choosing a place to live next school year.
Around 25 tables, occupied by representatives from apartment complexes and housing companies, filled the Union’s second-floor concourse, piano lounge and trapezoid lounge.
“We have a big population of the landlords from the areas surrounding campus, as well as in Highland Square and Cuyahoga Falls,” said Zachary Steiner, assistant director of Off-Campus Student Services.
Except those from Portage, Wayne, Holmes, Medina, Stark or Summit Counties, all UA students must stay in a dormitory their first year. Steiner said around half of these students will stay in the dorms a second year.
“After that [students] are able to move off campus, so this [housing fair] is a great opportunity for them,” Steiner said. “Everything can be taken care of today, all in one spot.”
Representatives from off-campus residencies were not the only ones at the fair, though. UA Off-Campus Student Services, Residence Life and Housing, Dining Services, and UA School of Law’s Legal Clinic had tables.
Tyese Kiper, a student assistant of Off-Campus Student Services, answered questions while passing out surveys, housing guides, and hole-punch papers.
The hole-punch papers listed each venue at the housing fair; students got stamps or hole-punches when they visited different tables. Along with a short survey, students returned these sheets to the Student Services table, where they got to spin a wheel for the chance to win raffle prizes.
Kiper guessed how many students usually get help from the housing fair.
“It varies each year, but I think a good hundred students. It’s probably like a hundred to two-hundred,” Kiper said. “Even if they don’t sign up for anything, they get enough information to help them out for next semester.”
UA’s Dining Services was there to give specific information on dining plans and, more importantly, make known that any student, faculty, or staff member can buy a dining plan regardless of where he or she lives.
Joann Sahl, assistant director of UA’s Legal Clinic, and Kristen Guappone, current law student, supervised the legal clinic’s table.
“We’re here to help students [with] landlord-tenant issues, how to get their security deposit back, any laws that might help protect them, liability [information]…basically to make sure they are really knowledgeable when they go into it so that they are not taken advantage of,” Guappone said.
Student Services provides information on lease technicalities as well, but not as in-depth as the legal clinic.
“Our office does lease reviews, so if a student doesn’t understand what’s in the lease…we’ll go through and and help them line-by-line,” said Todd Shaver, assistant director of Off-Campus Student Services.
The fair gave students a safe and easy way to start viewing off-campus living prospects; however, not all parts of the process are so simple. Shaver gave his advice for anyone moving off campus over the summer or next school year.
“First thing to do: budget. [Students] gotta figure out how much they can afford, whether they can do utilities, and so on. Next, location. And then, keeping their guarantor—whether its a parent or guardian—involved in the process the entire time,” Shaver said.
Piper also gave her input for any student making the leap to off-campus housing.
“I think trying to take on the bills and the responsibility that comes with living off campus is definitely something that a lot of students don’t put into perspective,” Kiper said. “There are so many things that you don’t have to worry about in the residence hall that you end up having to worry about outside.”
The housing fair was one of the many events that Off-Campus Student Services hosts to give all the information someone needs to move off campus. More help and information on living venues near campus and how to get the move-in process started can be found on <http://www.uakron.edu/offcampus/>, or by visiting Off-Campus Student Services on the first floor of the Union in room 152.