SU students reflect on turbulent semester for housing

Students reflect on turbulent semester for housing

Several sophomores have needed to adapt to unconventional on-campus living situations this semester.
Published: October 4, 2022 | Updated: October 5th, 2022 at 8:20 pm
Sophia Moore stands in front of her building on September 30th, 2022.
Sophia Moore stands in front of the Marley Education Center, one of SU's overflow housing options for this semester.

Sophomore Sophia Moore recalls her excitement last spring, after selecting a large split double dorm room in Dellplain Hall during the on-campus student housing selection process.

“I was sitting down at my laptop, ready to go, and we ended up picking room 536– I still remember the number,” Moore said “We were both committed to being in Dellplain.”

As the spring 2022 semester concluded and summer began, Moore was pleased with how well her housing selection process had gone and excited to live so close to many of the on-campus academic buildings. It wasn’t until mid-June that she received an email that changed all her plans.

“My roommate texted me, and she was actually studying abroad in London,” Moore said, “…and she said ‘hey, did you see the housing email’ and I was like ‘what housing email?’”

The email, received by Moore and dozens of other Syracuse University students, was sent to notify them that they had been selected to be placed in overflow housing.

Sophia Moore sits on her bed on September 30th, 2022.

Sophia Moore sits on her dorm room bed.

Sophia Moore checks in ti her dorm at 756 Irving Ave on September 30th, 2022.

Sophia Moore checks in to her dorm at 756 Irving Ave.

Allen Groves, Senior Vice President, and Chief Student Living Officer, stated that in mid-May, Enrollment Management notified the Housing and Student Experience department that the number of admitted students for the year exceeded projected numbers, beginning discussions about housing.

“Discussion began on a housing plan to accommodate these additional first-year students, with an objective to keep all first years on campus together to facilitate their transition to college and life away from home,” Groves wrote in an email. “Recognizing this would require relocating some sophomores, new housing options were identified, with priority given to proximity to campus and excellent amenities (e.g., air conditioning, laundry, private bathrooms in some cases).”

In late May, Enrollment Management concluded that an additional 200 first-year student beds would be necessary, according to Groves. This then prompted the random selection process of 200 students in Dellplain to be transferred to one of the new housing options.

The students were then given a week to fill out a survey, in which they were instructed to rank the four overflow housing options from most to least desired. The overflow housing includes four location options; The Sheraton, located at 801 University Ave, University Village Apartments, located on SU’s South Campus, 206 Walnut Place, formerly the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority house, and the Marley Education Center, a building previously owned by Crouse Hospital which housed it’s over 100-year-old nursing school, located at 765 Irving Ave.

Sophia Moore walks down her street stairs towards the exit of 756 Irving Ave on September 30th, 2022.
Sophia Moore walks down the stairs of the Marley Education Center.

“The reception was mixed when first announced. Some students were happy to be offered the new locations given amenities provided above what was offered in Dellplain, while other students (and parents) were upset that the choice of Dellplain made through the University’s housing lottery had been changed,” Groves wrote.

He said that the school has worked to address these issues and concerns and that the informal response from students has been largely positive.

For Moore, living in the Marley Education Center has been an unconventional situation. The decision comes just about seven months after SU bought the building, with both Crouse and SU signing a non-disclosure agreement concerning the terms of the purchase. The building is  four floors within the building, housing conference rooms, classrooms, medical simulation labs, a library and now student dorm rooms, located on the top floor.

“Behind this door, you swipe in and that’s where the dorm area is,” said Moore. “Once you get behind the dorm door it feels like a residential hall, but coming in you have to walk down this hallway that definitely feels like a nursing school.”

Just down the road, sophomore Toni Meehan was placed in one of the other overflow housing locations, 206 Walnut Place. Before its transformation into an on-campus dorm, the building was home to Delta Phi Epsilon, one of the 13 Panhellenic Council sororities on SU’s campus For Meehan and her roommate, deciding to live at 206 Walnut Place made the most sense because of its central location near campus and other sophomore housing. Without receiving any updated floor layouts or pictures of the room following their housing decision, Meehan said move-in turned into a guessing game.

Toni Meehan stands on her porch in Syracuse on October 3rd 2022.

Toni Meehan stands on her porch on Walnut Avenue. She lives 206 Walnut Place, formerly the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority house.

Toni Meehan sits on her bed on October 3rd, 2022.

Toni Meehan sits on her bed in her dorm room on October 3rd, 2022.

“The blueprints they sent us were three years old and the scale wasn’t accurate, so we had no idea how big our room was,” said Meehan. “And then I had to wait all summer to find out if our room had air conditioning or not.”

Yet after arriving and realizing that the building included air conditioning, a washer and dryer, and what she notes as a “large wardrobe” in her bedroom, Meehan said the experience has been quite enjoyable. Making friends with her neighbors in similar situations, it’s become a bonding experience at 206 Walnut Place, similar to many other residents in the overflow housing locations.

Across the street from 206 Walnut Place, sophomore Grace Hayden lives in The Sheraton Syracuse Hotel and Conference Center. Unlike Moore and Meehan, Hayden appealed to the school for different housing after being placed on South Campus for her sophomore year housing. In response, she said the school offered to remove her from on-campus housing, which Hayden did not see as a suitable option.

“Me and my mom called for a couple of weeks straight and then they were like ‘okay, you’re in the Sheraton,’” Hayden said.

She received the email in August notifying her and her roommate of their living situation. Despite this not being her first option, with no other living spaces available on SU’s main campus, Hayden said it has worked out nicely.

Grace Hayden in her room in the Sheraton on September 30th, 2022.

Grace Hayden in her room in the Sheraton Hotel.

Grace Hayden in her room in the Sheraton on September 30th, 2022.

Grace Hayden watches TV in her room in the Sheraton Hotel.

“I was definitely worried at first but now I’m like okay, this is definitely bigger than any other sophomore dorm, and having a bathroom is very nice,” Hayden said. “But I definitely feel like going forward, the school just needs to plan so much better.”

Hayden said it’s not just on-campus housing that has been impacted by the increased number of admitted first-year students. Dining halls, the Schine Student Center, and the class registration processes have all been impacted.

“I’m fine with housing but going forward, they definitely need to build a new dorm so there’s more freshman housing, and maybe build a new dining hall,” Hayden said.

With this being the first year of having on-campus housing in such unique places, it’s unclear as to whether or not they will remain permanent dorm locations. Groves said that the decision has not yet been made for next year, with University Village Apartments being the only definite location that will remain for juniors and seniors. For now, many of these students, including Moore, see this situation as a strange, yet cool, story to tell.

“There’s something a little cool about it, I guess. I was talking to my roommate about this last night and we were like, you know, this is an unconventional situation but it’s gonna make a great story.”