Last week The Triangle published a series of articles pertaining to Drexel University’s current and future housing policies. Co-chief Copy Editor Kim Post wrote an opinion piece, “Housing remains costly and inefficient,” which picked up traction via social media and landed on Philebrity, an independent blog for Philadelphia.
On The Triangle website, a supposed American Campus Communities shareholder by the name of Full Benoit commented with his thoughts on Post’s article. I would like to take this time to respond to Benoit’s remark, “Rather than living in old row homes, Drexel students will continue to benefit by living in premier spaces with great amenities. It will boost overall morale among students.”
While there is no way to prove or disprove this statement, I have to disagree with Benoit to a certain extent. Of course most students would love to live in an on-campus “premier space,” but not all of us can afford the current price or believe the price is worth what we’re getting out of it.
If I’m going to pay over $700 a month I better not have to share a room, whether it’s with a friend or stranger. I want my privacy, my own space. I also don’t need to pay for the amenities that are being offered. Oh, you have a gym? Thank god, because access to the Drexel gym isn’t already included in my tuition. Oh, you offer movie rooms? Perfect, I can stop going to the free movie screening that the Campus Activities Board offers multiple times a week. But wait, there’s a pool table? Now I don’t have to walk the three blocks to use the one at Ross Commons.
You’re wasting my money. Stop.
When I was looking at my living options for my sophomore year — back when sophomores weren’t mandated to live on campus — I decided to move off campus where I could pay around $500 a month for my own room, full kitchen and two bathrooms, and I didn’t have to follow any University-imposed housing rules.
Did I lack “morale” because of the 10-to-15-minute walk to class? No. I felt like a real adult. (Hello, isn’t Drexel all about the real world experience anyway?) And at the end of each month I wasn’t dirt poor; I was satisfied with my situation.
While I can’t argue that having students live on-campus strengthens the overall student community, there are other factors that should be considered when looking at the relation between where students live and student morale — and it’s not by forcing us to pay for something we don’t want.
I came to Drexel with a plan to move off campus as soon as I could. Why? Because Drexel is expensive and I wanted to minimize my loans as much as possible. Moving off campus allowed me to do this by saving hundreds of dollars each month. After crunching some more numbers and talking with some of my family members that live in the city, I decided to take this one step further. I now live in a family member’s basement free of charge, with no bills. You want to talk about amenities? How about a driveway and home-cooked meals?
I know this isn’t an option for most students at Drexel and I am very fortunate to have it available. But if Mr. Benoit wants to ask me about my morale, I’d tell him it’s pretty damn good for someone who’s not even within walking distance of campus.
Instead of working to pay close to $1,000 to live in a premier space, I — and most of my friends who live in cheaper, off-campus apartments — am investing my resources in necessities like tuition, textbooks and the always-needed happy hour after three never-ending weeks
As a Drexel student, I’m obligated to work non-stop and do everything I can to survive 10-week terms on top of having a part-time job and partaking in extracurricular activities. This means I’m home very little, if only to sleep. I can’t imagine living in Chestnut Square and paying the price for a premier space I’m hardly in.
For those of you who willingly choose and are able to afford these premier spaces, that is awesome and I am happy that these apartments are being utilized and not sitting empty. But I don’t think my morale and those living on-campus are any different because of an address.
Full Benoit’s Comment:
“As an ACC shareholder, I reject this article. It is important to Drexel and its partners that its undergraduate student population thrives on campus. The Summit and Chestnut Square will be fundamental in bringing about a new age to this campus in the city. Rather than living in old row homes, Drexel students will continue to benefit by living in premier spaces with great amenities. It will boost overall morale among students.
Drexel University is no longer creating its own residential buildings on campus because it is focusing on its core strengths as an educational institution. For the residential buildings that will be maintained for years to come, they are very nice options for first-year students. Lastly, your reference to the The Landlord and Tenant Act is laughable and should be redacted from the article.
As a shareholder, I have gained a 20 percent return on my investment. I could not be happier, and neither could Drexel undergraduate students.”
Julia Casciato is the Opinion Editor at the Triangle. She can be contacted at [email protected].