Housing concerns resurface amidst annual flood of Oldenborg applications

Pomona’s Oldenborg Center is the campus’s solo residence hall available by application only. (Austin Zang • The Student Life)

On Feb. 13, applications for housing at Pomona College’s Oldenborg Language Halls opened for rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. However, many students report applying to Oldenborg out of necessity rather than for its language offerings because it is one of the few residence halls at Pomona that offers single rooms and air conditioning.

Paul Cahill, director of Oldenborg, and Tamara Olivos, assistant director of Oldenborg, affirmed in an email to TSL that Oldenborg directors look for students who have interest in one of the languages offered and in the culture of the hall in order to create a sense of community. 

“We consider this to be a key part of students becoming active participants in the Oldenborg community,” they said via email.

Anisa Ketlekha PO ’26 and Aiko Kato PO ’26 and pointed out, however, that because Oldenborg has nicer facilities than other sophomore dorms, students apply for reasons other than language.

“If other dorms are better, and have AC and nice rooms, people wouldn’t [stress as much to get into Oldenborg] by faking that they want to study a language,” Kate said. “Especially the people who are applying to multiple language halls, they might not put as much effort into applying to one single language hall, compared to me who is [putting] all my effort into applying only for [the] Japanese [hall].”

Max Feng PO ’26 explained that he wants to apply to Oldenborg to secure his chances to live in a residence hall with good facilities.

“If I don’t apply for Oldenborg, then I might not know where I’m gonna live [next academic year],” Feng said. 

Oldenborg’s selection process has two steps. The first step involves deciding which students would be assigned room draw numbers based on their applications, and the second step uses a random process to generate room draw numbers. According to Cahill and Olivos, the random process is used to mitigate any unfairness that could occur by individually ranking students.”

Currently, Pomona reserves a section of Oldenborg’s rooms for quarantined students. Cahill and Olivos confirmed that Oldenborg will continue to serve as a quarantine space in the 2023-2024 academic year. 

However, Ketlekha expressed that due to Oldenborg’s popularity among students, those quarantine rooms should be for residence instead. 

“[Since quarantine] is temporary … those rooms can [instead house] people [who want to live in Oldenborg] for the whole year, [especially when] Oldenborg rooms are nice,” Ketlekha said.

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