Transfer students at SU frustrated with lack of guaranteed housing
Ally Moreo | Photo Editor
When Stacy Omosa arrived at Syracuse University in January, she was welcomed to her on-campus home — a Skyhall dorm — with bug-ridden bathrooms and an SUID reader that wasn’t functioning, she said.
Omosa, a freshman political science major who transferred to the university in January, felt that Skyhall was generally run-down. That, coupled with the dorm’s location away from Main Campus, made it difficult for her to get acquainted with campus life.
As the housing lottery process for the 2017-18 academic year begins, SU transfer students like Omosa continue to cope with limited and often unappealing housing options. Most transfer students are placed either in one of the Skyhall dorms or in expensive off-campus apartments and are often left to figure out housing on their own.
Some transfer students say they feel the university is simply not doing enough for them.
Currently, transfer students can only secure on-campus housing on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to the SU admissions website, which means that the earlier a housing deposit is submitted by a transfer student, the more likely they are to secure on-campus housing.
Transfers students who do secure on-campus housing, like Omosa, are typically housed in the Skyhalls. That can pose its own issues for transfer students trying to get acquainted with the SU campus.
The Terms and Conditions of Student Housing 2016-17 state that “housing will be assigned to transfer students at the University’s discretion if it is determined that space is available.” This means that transfer students sometimes have to live off campus if on-campus housing fills up. Last year, students who did not receive on-campus housing were placed in Campus West Apartments, an off-campus apartment complex located on Henry Street.
Omosa said she was never notified of the first-come, first-serve transfer student housing policy. She learned she wouldn’t be guaranteed on-campus housing only after doing her own research online, she said.
Omosa said she called the university immediately after learning that transfer students weren’t guaranteed housing and was able to get a room in Skyhall on South Campus.
But Omosa quickly encountered problems when she moved into Skyhall. In addition to feeling that the dorm was run-down, Omosa said the distance from Main Campus, where most new students live, was an issue.
Because Omosa was unfamiliar with the SU campus, she said she would leave her room an hour before her first class to make sure she got there on time.
“It made a difference, especially with making friends from my own class,” Omosa said.
Omosa was eventually allowed to move into Shaw Hall.
Omosa said she was initially scared when she saw the first-come, first-serve transfer student housing policy. After she called the university, Omosa said she was told there were rooms available but she would have to make a deposit the same day to guarantee a room in one of the Skyhalls.
Canela Corrales, a sophomore policy studies major who transferred to SU in August 2016, lived in Skyhall before moving to a South Campus apartment in January. She said housing transfer students far away from Main Campus makes it difficult for transfer students to get acclimated with the campus community.
“We weren’t placed on Main Campus where we could at least be in the middle of where everything was going on. We were isolated in a dorm on South Campus,” Corrales said.
In 2015, The Daily Orange reported that 26 of the 351 Skyhall residents moved out of the Skyhalls in the spring semester. Students cited unequal facilities and distance from main campus as their main reasons for moving, according to the article.
Transfer students who can’t get a room on campus sometimes call the Office of Off-Campus and Commuter Services, said Elin Riggs, the office’s director. OCCS will try to make sure students know their housing options, she added.
About 20 to 25 transfer students contact OCCS during a given academic year, Riggs said. Others might get the information they need from OCCS’s website. But because OCCS doesn’t receive a list of transfer students who don’t receive on-campus housing, transfer students must contact OCCS first, she said.
Riggs said OCCS is working on getting a list of students so the office could be more proactive in their outreach.
Mary Dineen, a sophomore history and anthropology double major who transferred to SU in August 2016, said she could not secure on-campus housing and was ultimately placed in Campus West Apartments.
Although Dineen knew that on-campus housing wasn’t guaranteed, she said she assumed she would still have the option to live on Main Campus. But Dineen said she received an email in June that informed her housing was only available in Campus West.
A staff member with the Office of Housing, Meal Plan and I.D. Card Services said space on campus filled up last year, which led to placements in Campus West.
The rate for a four-bedroom Campus West apartment is $5,945 per semester, according to the SU housing website. In comparison, it costs $3,345 per semester for a room in Skyhall, according to the website.
Dineen said she can’t afford to pay for a meal plan because of the higher cost of living at Campus West.
Eileen Simmons, director of the Housing, Meal Plan and I.D. Cards Services office, did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story.
The university is considering implementing a three-year on-campus housing requirement as a part of the Campus Framework plan. Jaclyn Grosso, a spokeswoman for the Campus Framework project, said there hasn’t been conversation about adding a housing requirement for transfer students.
Although Omosa now lives in Shaw Hall, she said she still wants to see the experience for transfer students living in Skyhall improved. She said she emailed the Skyhall residential advisor and his assistant to get information on the Campus Framework plan to move students onto main campus.
“They have not gotten back to me at all,” Omosa said.
Published on March 21, 2017 at 11:19 pm
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