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With Buckeye Village Closing, Ohio State Graduate Students In Limbo

Buckeye Village serves graduate students and their families at Ohio State University.
Paige Pfleger
Buckeye Village serves graduate students and their families at Ohio State University.

Ohio State University announced it will close Buckeye Village, a graduate student and family apartment complex, next fall. 

The move has been in the works for years. The university plans to redevelop the North Campus property for the sports district.

Buckeye Village opened in the late 1950s as a dedicated school housing option for graduate students and families. It has nearly 400 units, of which 315 were occupied in 2016.

Now, however, only 89 units are occupied. That's in part because of a university effort to ease the transition, and also due to construction happening in the area. 

A spokesman for the university says they are in the process of negotiating a lease agreement with University Village, a private apartment complex half a mile north from Buckeye Village. 

"Beginning in 2020-2021, currently contracted Buckeye Village residents would have the option of renting a University Village unit," the spokesman says. "They would have this option for two years at rates subsidized by the university to match the current Buckeye Village rates."

But current residents still have a lot of questions about the move.

Savithra Jayarha stands on her lawn, hanging clothes to dry. Her 4-month-old baby coos from his carseat in the doorway.

She’s lived in both Buckeye Village and University Village, and says the University Village apartments are nicer and newer than where they live now. Even though rent will stay the same, she says utilities might make the move more expensive. 

"Most expensive would be internet charges," she says. "Here we have OSU wireless, so we don’t have to pay anything as long as we are affiliated with the university. But at UV, you would have to buy internet. When we were in UV we paid $40-60 for internet."

Credit Paige Pfleger / WOSU
Children's toys on the lawn at Buckeye Village, Ohio State's apartment complex for graduate students and families.

Her neighbor Emre Basok says for graduate students, money is already pretty tight. 

"Even if you live here it’s still really hard to make ends meet with your stipend from university as a graduate student," he says. 

Basok is from Turkey, and points out many of the residents at Buckeye Village are international students. He has been able to build a community by being around other students in a similar boat.

"Until yesterday, we didn’t know what was going to happen, there was this mystery," says Ph.D. student Emre Basok. "Are they going to kick us out? When? Yesterday I received an email saying they might transfer us to University Village but I don’t know if it’s going to have this sense of community."

He worries that future students won't have the same opportunity if they don't have a dedicated space. 

Credit Paige Pfleger / WOSU
Emre Basok has lived in Buckeye Village for about two years. He says he will miss the sense of community.

A university spokesman told WOSU that in 2017 they were looking at possible options for graduate housing and community spaces, but none of the proposals “met the required quality and affordability thresholds.”

Stephen Post, president of the council of graduate students, criticizes the move. He says a new facility is necessary.

"Graduate students with families that would love to come to graduate school here at OSU are really looking at what options are available for them as families in terms of housing," Post says. "Is it affordable? Is it matching the needs that they want? And without a new facility and an investment in that I think we’re going to be pushing those students away."

The University says they’re still exploring available options.