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Saint Mary’s provides on-campus alternative

Anneliese Woolford | Friday, October 31, 2003

Off-campus housing, where available, is something that college students nationwide often consider. Numerous reasons exist for why students may seek alternative housing arrangements, but many cases simply involve the attraction of increased independence and freedom.

And as construction continues on the new campus apartments at Saint Mary’s, many hope that the facility will provide an alternative to students seeking the benefits of off-campus living.

According to Saint Mary’s Office of Residence Life and Housing, 244 College students currently live off-campus, of which 148 are seniors. The number of students who decide to move off-campus remains relatively consistent from year to year, said Michelle Russell, the director of Residence Life.

“As students reach their senior year, they are looking for different living options such as apartment style living,” she said. “They want more independence and freedom in their housing environment.”

According to students, independence and freedom account for some of the major reasons to move off-campus.

“I moved off-campus this year because I needed more freedom, more space and more independence before preparing for what will come after graduation,” said senior Betsy Mitchell.

Russell said she often confronts students like Mitchell who simply want to live with friends, have their own kitchen instead of a meal plan and have more independence. Some simply feel that they have outgrown the experience of living in residence halls by their senior year, she said.

The Office of Residence Life attempts to provide options and benefits that entice students, particularly seniors, to remain on-campus. One of the most popular options is Annunciata, the top floor in Holy Cross Hall designated specifically for seniors. With larger rooms and a developed sense of community among fellow residents, a wait list typically exists for housing in Annunciata year after year.

“It’s a great option for seniors because they will only be living with other seniors, and it has a different feel to it than a traditional residence hall,” Russell said.

“I think the convenience of [being] on-campus keeps some seniors here. They want to be close to classes and their activities – living on campus keeps them in the center of it all.”

Maureen Russell, a senior living in LeMans Hall, includes this on her list of reasons for continuing to live in residence halls.

“My second major is at Notre Dame, so between going to those classes and band every night, I would never be in a place for that long,” she said. “I like living at Saint Mary’s because at least between classes I can go sit in a place I can consider home.”

For those students who choose to move off-campus, Russell and others in the Office of Residence Life can provide advice on off-campus issues. Much of what Russell said she discusses with students involves financial implications, household expenses and the impact moving off-campus may have on financial aid packages.

She said she feels hopeful that the presence of the new campus apartments, scheduled for completion in 2007, will appeal to students by merging the convenience of on-campus living with the independence of off-campus housing.

Unlike other local housing options, the apartments will be in close proximity to academic buildings, have a card access safety feature and offer amenities such as cable, Internet and local phone that would typically incur additional cost.

While she anticipates the apartments will attract all class years, Russell is especially hopeful of their attraction to seniors.

“I think in time we have the potential to keep more and more seniors on campus once they see what the apartments are like and what it’s like to live in them,” she said. “They are going to be a wonderful addition to the Saint Mary’s community.”