The housing lottery was less competitive for those interested in living in the Riverview Apartments this year, partially because the number of students interested in living off campus or in Southside Living Area has increased.
Approximately 83 percent of students applied for housing this year, a number that continues to decrease each year as UR has been encouraging students to move off campus to make way for larger incoming classes.
UR’s goal is to reach an enrollment of 5,000 undergraduate students. But according to Director of Residential Life Laurel Contomanolis, UR must be cautious to remain “right-sized,” a balance between the number of students who want housing and the number of available beds. Contomanolis explained how previously, a significant number of transfer students had to be turned away from housing, however, now there will be more beds to offer, as more students are deciding to live off campus.
“As more students go out into the area they start filling it in and the comfort level increases,” Contomanolis said.
Although the final count of students applying for specific housing has not been tallied yet, Contomanolis stated that she can see the growing trend of students looking for other options, as more upperclassmen were able to get into Riverview than ever before.
“The economy has something to do with it,” Contomanolis said about the cause behind the growing trend to leave campus.
Students want to save money, especially as tuition continues to increase. In addition, the lure of independence is a pull for many to explore off-campus living options, she believes.
“It’s cheaper,” junior Jessica Moore, who currently lives off campus, said. “I like having my own space and separation between home and school.”
Moore said most of her friends have followed suit and have made plans to live in the 19th Ward during their senior year.
“I feel too old to be living in a dorm. I’m 21,” junior Maggie Thyne, who has also planned to live off-campus, said. Frustrated with meal plans and Residential Life policies, Thyne described how it was time for her to make a change.
Riverview is still considered off campus to some students. However, Contomanolis stated there was no problem filling those rooms. Southside, however, still has open beds and many of those who wanted six person suites were placed in six person clusters in Southside.
“[Southside’s] buildings are so old,” junior Leslie Somie, who currently lives in Southside, said. She explained the allure of living in Riverview despite the distance from campus.
“Riverview has better buildings, furnishings and bigger rooms. Its more independent,” she said.
The social scene in the 19th Ward is even more evidence of student movement toward off-campus living. The number of informal fraternity houses, parties and community developments has increased, and as more and more people leave campus, friends blaze the trail, making it easier for more students to move.
Not everyone is hopping on the bandwagon, though.
“I thought it would be cheaper [and] more fun,” junior Sharra Brentlinger, who will be moving back on campus next year, said. “I was really excited to have my own bathroom.”
However, without a car, Brentlinger felt too far from her friends. She also found herself in the middle of an “urban famine” and began ordering out more often.
Still, for some, the experience of moving off campus presents an alluring new environment.
“I wanted a new experience,” Moore said. “I was ready to grow up and move on.”
Johnson is a member of the class of 2013.