The new off-campus apartments, which provide a greater freedom to resident students, have forced greater integration of University students into the local community.
“Living here is definitely different from living in the dorms,” Celina Atkins, a junior communications major, said. “You can cook here and shop for your own groceries at Key Food. The only bad thing is that you have to carry your things around campus and can’t run to your room in between classes, but overall the benefits outweigh the flaws.”
Another resident student compared their experience to the dorms.
“It is much better than living on campus,” senior Shenna Pendarvis said. “We have free washers and driers, and we live a lot more independently.”
The apartments located between 146th and 149th street on Union Turnpike house 189 students. In each spacious apartment there are several comforts such as a terrace, personal laundry facility, living room, dinning area, and complete kitchen. In addition to these amenities, the students are provided with free shuttle service to and from campus that runs between the hours of 7 a.m. and 1:15 a.m.
Acquisition of the apartments is based on a merit system and can only be attained by students who are accelerating in their academics and are at least in their junior year at the University. Freshmen were not eligible to apple for off-campus housing.
Although the apartments are slightly pricier than living in the dorms, they provide for a more favorable quality of life for the students.
The absence of resident advisors establishes a freer environment for the students. However, Jason Perri, coordinator for off-campus living, resides at the newly attained housing complex along with Omar Torres, the director for judicial affairs. Both officials oversee the site and address any issues the students might have.
“Overall, the feedback from students has been generally positive,” Perri said. “There seems to be an appreciation for the additional space and individuality that the apartments allow for.”
In addition to impacting student life, expansion of St. John’s housing has generated a mixed response from community members. Neighboring stores are overjoyed to have the students as a part of the community.
“We get more business because of the students,” an assistant store manager of the local Blockbuster Video said. “In fact, I am hoping some of them will work here. We can always use some help around here and we have flexible hours.”
Another store owner anticipates a livelier atmosphere with the students living in the area.
“It’s nice to see the activity in the neighborhood,” the manager of the Galloping Green Bar said. “I hope to make new friends here.”
Although store owners were thrilled with this change, some local residents had serious concerns regarding the active life style of the students.
“I don’t like the idea,” one area resident said of the off-campus apartments. “These kids raise hell. They talk loudly and play music. If they behave themselves, I have no problem.”
Other area residents were hesitant about making any comments this early in the school year.
With the progression of the school year, Perri hopes to gauge student satisfaction with their off-campus experience and mandate any changes necessary to improve the facilities and community relations.