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OU Housing offers single-occupancy rooms as COVID-19 mitigation strategy

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Couch Tower Upwards

Couch Tower on Sept. 3.

In the summer of 2020, OU Housing established 300 single-occupancy rooms across the freshman dormitories in response to COVID-19. 

According to the OU Together site, these 300 single rooms were placed throughout Adams, Walker, and Couch Towers and the David L. Boren Residence Hall. Amy Buchanan, the director of marketing and communications of University Operations, said in an email these single-occupancy rooms were added for the 2020-2021 school year to lessen student density in the dormitories.

Housing and Residence Life worked with and followed the guidance of OU’s Chief COVID Officer (Dr. Dale Bratzler) and university executive leadership to create the best possible environment for students while living on campus. Providing more students the option to have a single-occupancy room was just one mitigation strategy the university implemented in response to COVID-19,” Buchanan said in an email.

Kesha Keith, OU’s Director of Media Relations, said in an email these additional single rooms were not constructed in the summer of 2020. The university reassigned rooms as single-occupancy from former double-occupancy rooms.

For many OU students, living in a single-occupancy room has had extensive benefits considering the current climate of COVID-19. 

“Living in a single room, I feel a lot safer than I would if I had a roommate,” OU biology-pre med freshman Riley Heitz said in a text message to The Daily. “I have underlying health conditions, so I am considered high-risk for COVID-19. I try to stay as safe as possible, and I feel like having a single room helps me feel more secure.” 

OU advertising freshman Roni Butt also said in a text message that although COVID-19 wasn’t her initial reason for requesting a single room, she is happy she did. 

“I’m glad I made that decision too since COVID-19 ended up (having) such an impact on my freshman year,” Butt said in the message. “I feel a lot safer being in a single dorm knowing if I possibly did have a roommate, how their actions around COVID-19 might affect me health-wise.” 

Buchanan said in an email that multiple factors are considered when determining the assignments for single-occupancy rooms. 

“OU Housing works with the Accessibility and Disability Resource Center to ensure students needing room accommodations, which could include single-occupancy rooms, are prioritized,” Buchanan said in the email. “Outside of ADRC accommodations, single rooms, along with other community and room preferences listed on the housing contract, are assigned based on contract completion date and availability.”

Both Heitz and Butt said in a text message the process of acquiring a single room was simple. 

“The process of obtaining a single room was super easy for me,” Heitz said in a text message. “I submitted my housing contract fairly early, so I feel like that definitely helped me get one. Other than that, it was really just a matter of checking a box.” 

Buchanan said in an email the exact amount of rooms provided throughout the freshman dormitories is determined on a year-by-year basis, all while considering the university’s needs. 

Keith said in an email there are still rooms available upon request for students interested in obtaining a single-occupancy room, and plans for these rooms are still being made for the upcoming fall semester.

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