Student Housing Business

MAR-APR 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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STUDENT OPINION StudentHousingBusiness.com March/April 2018 119 Finding a Path For this Lehigh sophomore, freshman housing brought two experiences. By Hali Levine I In 1865, Asa Packer, president of Lehigh Valley Railroad, presented a $500,000 gift to build a university that would contribute to the "intellectual and moral improvement." Decades later, I received the opportunity to attend Lehigh University, a school that would provide me with a great education as well as being aesthetically beautiful. After I commit- ted to Lehigh, I immediately began to hear that "Lower Cents" was the place to live from other girls who were also attending. The dorm, offi- cially known as The Centennial II Complex, is located near the off-campus parties as well as Rathbone, which is Lehigh's more social din- ing hall. The other freshman dorm, McClintic Marshall — or M&M as the students call it — is located near a rundown cafe that is located on the top floor of one of the highest buildings on "the hill" and is generally avoided. Lower Cents is also conveniently next to the business school and the gym, two places where I would be spending a lot of my time. Therefore, on my housing application, I requested to be placed there. Several months later, I was surprised and upset to find out we had been placed in the ugliest, most inconveniently placed dorm, M&M, which was far from the parties and all of the academic buildings. Lehigh's freshman housing process had changed that year to a random lottery instead of being able to request a specific dorm. We were surprised by this because, in previous years, writing a specific dorm on your housing letter almost guaran- teed you the room of your choice. But my roommate and I were not about to let this decision hinder our Lehigh experience. We made do with what we had, but living in M&M was quite the nightmare. Our experi- ence was filled with many sleepless nights from the screams through thin walls, drunk boys accidentally walking into the room and, worst of all, hitting my head on the cabinets that were placed right over my bed. On the weekends, my roommate and I would have to travel all the way across campus to the other dining hall for all of our meals since the small- er one located by our building was closed. The library was also a trek; most weekends I found myself there from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. because it was just too far to walk all the way back home for a break. The biggest issue that we faced in M&M was that it was filled with students who par- ticipated in "theme" programs. We realized, at some point, that the problem we faced was not the location or amenities of M&M, but the fact that we didn't have much in common with the other residents. It was also diffi- cult to get to know our residence hall advisor as she was very similar to the students in the pro- grams and shared their interests. Overall, it was a miserable way of living since it was hard to make friends in the hall. By second semester, I knew that in order to maintain an acceptable GPA, get some sleep and have easier access to the better dining hall and the other freshmen in Lower Cents, I would have to move. While it was a bit awk- ward breaking this news to my roommate, I knew that it would be better for the both of us if we split, as we had very different living styles and outlooks on college life. Lower Cents was not an option as it was filled to capacity, but there was a single open in the most beautiful freshman hall, Richards. Richards was close to the majority of my friends, Williams Café (home of the best salads and sandwiches), the business school and the gym. While I was a bit hesitant to be living in a new dorm room all alone, I knew that the ben- efits outweighed the costs and that this change would benefit me in the long run. Lehigh was very accommodating with the move-in process. Upon entering Richards, I was immediately welcomed by half of the girls basketball team that lived on the floor as well as two other girls who both lived in singles and were planning on rushing a soror- ity, something that I was undecided about at the time. My room was bigger than the double that I had previously lived in and had room for a closet and a dresser, two items that were foreign to me my first semester. The move had also allowed me to spend more time with my friends who lived in the building next door, and I often found myself in their common room playing in ping-pong tournaments and watching television, two activities that I never enjoyed in M&M. I was there so often that their residence hall advisor had taken me under her wing, invited me to all of their dorm events and convinced me to rush a sorority. Later that semester, my friends and I all decided to join a sorority together, which ultimately was the best decision that I made at Lehigh. If it had not been for the move, where I was able to foster new friendships with girls in the other dorms, my Lehigh experience would be much different as I probably would not have partici- pated in Greek life. As I write this one year later, I now live in a sorority house. When you join a soror- ity at Lehigh, you sign a contract to live in its Greek house during your sophomore and junior years. Although it has been an amazing experience living with all of my best friends at Lehigh, living on top of a hill has posed some difficulty. I have to dedicate an extra 20 minutes to my morning routine to either walk down the hill or take the bus through campus to get to the business school. Living on top of the hill has also been hard as I have to allocate enough time in the day to take the bus up to the house for meals and then make it back down in time for my next class. Even with two whole semesters left of living in the house, by sophomore year girls were already talking about their arrangements for senior year. At Lehigh, most of the seniors who have participated in Greek life rent off-campus houses so that they can all live in the same area as their friends. This option is usually cheaper than paying to live in a residence hall. To ensure that we would be living within a decent proximity to the school in a house with ameni- ties such as parking, air conditioning and a full kitchen, the deposit for a house had to be secured in the midst of our sophomore year. My five best friends — the girls who I met from living in Richards — were eager to put down our deposits to secure a house for our senior year. I leased my future house through a locally owned and operated business; the owner is a Lehigh grad. The house has upgrad- ed systems and appliances and is in a safe area. The landlord provides on-site maintenance, which is important, as my future roommates and I have never managed a house before. Thinking about living off-campus in less than two years is scary and sad to think about — I will only have one year left at Lehigh at the time — but I am excited for a new opportunity. Hali Levine is a student at Lehigh University College of Business and Economics. HALI LEVINE Lehigh University

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