Housing changes to come as space grows scarce

Many upperclassmen who want to live on campus next fall may have to change their plans, according to Dominic Petruzzelli, director of Residence Life.

“Next year we are planning to make a paradigm shift between our on-campus and off-campus students,” Petruzzelli said. “As a university, we want to help our students get adjusted.”

The “adjustment” that the school is hoping to help students make is different for each. For underclassmen, the University hopes to help them adjust from living at home to being in an on-campus environment that fosters personal growth as individuals. For the upperclassmen, the shift involves maturing into adults who are capable of taking care of themselves without constant supervision, Petruzzelli said.

The fostering of personal growth will not come without changes in present living situations though. According to Petruzzelli, the University is planning to have the underclassmen stay on campus while the upperclassmen move to the residential off-campus housing the school is “actively pursuing.” In his estimation, there are fewer upperclassmen who want to stay on campus than in years past, and thus, the shift would fit both needs.

Petruzzelli also said that there may yet be some housing available to upperclassmen who want to live on campus, and that the University will work with students who are guaranteed housing under the terms of their scholarships if they wish to stay on campus. The availability of off-campus housing has not been determined yet, but Petruzzelli is hopeful that specifics of exactly what housing is available for which students will be known relatively soon.

“We’re giving ourselves a target date of the first week of April,” he said.

With an ever-increasing amount of freshmen being accepted into St. John’s, the need for housing has grown, and as such, housing has become increasingly sparce. To help remedy the situation, additions to the present off-campus housing located on Union Turnpike and the surrounding areas of the school will be made. Residence Life is planning on acquiring additional land so that more housing can be provided by the fall of 2007.

According to Petruzzeli, the University is looking to acquire properties within a quarter of a mile to a mile of the school.
He also added that, in addition to the close proximity to the University, the housing would have shuttle services and their own public safety staff. He also added that the rooms would be fully furnished and would be as comfortable to live in as the current off-campus housing.

Despite the movement of upperclassmen to the off-campus housing, Petruzzelli insists that the moves are not aimed at picking one class of students over the other.

“The University is dedicated to serving all classes, not just freshmen and sophomores,” he said.

St. John’s might be renovating the housing program, but that has not stopped some students from feeling less than pleased with the way they have been treated on campus.

“It is a very scary situation when you may not have housing when you live miles away,” said senior Tinisha McMillan. “I honestly believe that if I was made aware of how housing would be prior to me accepting to attend this University, I probably would have chosen to go elsewhere…the housing rules have become unreasonable. They are creating a very young campus life filled with freshmen and sophomores.”

Petruzzelli has been at St. John’s since May 2006 and has spent nine years in the field of residence life, with his most recent stop being DePaul University. He has also worked at Michigan Univeristy, Illinois-Wesleyan, and Clemson Univeristy.

Experience at universities such as these has given him the ability to see some of the styles of living and as such, St. John’s will benefit from some of this experience.

Petruzzelli said that the Univeristy is attempting to take the level of student happiness from just being satisfactory to a place where residents are excited about living at St. John’s.

“The good thing about our program is that we are younger than many of the other older, more established programs,” he said. “If there is a new trend we can just add it to our system whereas they would have to implement things in a longer process.”