Former residence hall students find independence, challenges in new apartments
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 04:09
The smell of warm tortillas and taco seasoning filled the air as Miranda Carlson and her boyfriend Jacob Fox cooked dinner for friends Saturday night.
“It’s only the second meal I’ve made since we moved in,” Carlson, a sophomore majoring in film, admitted.
“Yeah, I’m usually the one who gets stuck with all the cooking – and I don’t even live here,” Fox, a senior majoring in psychology, said with a smirk.
Despite a lack of culinary expertise, Carlson said her full-size kitchen is just one of the benefits of living at the Lofts at Gateway.
Marketed on their website as apartments that “meet the needs of active students,” the Lofts offer an atmosphere of independence to UT students like Caitlin Arthurs, Carlson’s roommate.
“I feel like [my Loft apartment] is a really good transition place,” Arthurs, a sophomore majoring in creative writing, said. “We’re not in the dorms anymore, but we’re close enough to campus where it’s easy to get around and we still get to learn about how to live on our own.”
Both Arthurs and Carlson were members of the Living Learning Communities last year, and they both enjoy the differences in living situations. While Arthurs said she enjoyed the experience of LLC as a freshman, she does not want to live in the dorms again.
“Living so close to campus, it kind of has a dorm-feel, but in other ways it feels like we are on our own,” Arthurs said. “And the fact that we don’t have to go to any floor meetings, you don’t have to report to an RA, you don’t really have to interact really with anybody on our floor, it’s a lot better because we can do our own thing.”
Arthurs and Carlson pay $629 a month per bed space, so if either roommate falters on the lease, the other will continue paying a flat rate.
“That takes a huge load off me,” Arthurs said, “Because I don’t have to worry about getting stuck with $1,200 of rent if somebody ends up dropping out – [management] just assigns you with a new roommate.”
Arthurs said having to pay a monthly rent yet having a sort of “safety net” is a great experience.
“That’s going to come in handy next year, because I want to move to a real apartment a little further from campus, and I’ll be used to paying rent and kind of living like an adult,” she said.
Rebecca Cramer, a junior in psychology, said this is her second year in the dorms. After living at Ottawa and moving this year to Horton International House, Cramer said she feels uncomfortable in her new residence hall.
“We have six people in one dorm, and the people in the single rooms keep to themselves,” she said. “They don’t even really say hi.”
Cramer admits that she is jealous of her friends’ washer and dryer set up and is considering moving to the Lofts next year.
While Arthurs has gotten many questions answered by building managers, the managers stay mostly out of sight. She said having a building manager instead of an RA makes guest visits a lot less of a hassle than in the dorms.
“It’s more of a trust thing,” Arthurs said. “They know you’re not going to let in someone crazy that’s not supposed to be there. It’s great here, especially when [in the dorms] you have to always sign someone in, even if they’re only going to be there for five minutes.”
Fox, a commuter student, said he often uses the Lofts as a resting place when he has early morning classes the next day. After sleeping in Ottawa last year and the Lofts this year, Fox said he feels the Lofts are much safer.
“The dorms were really easy to get into,” Fox said. “You’re supposed to check into the front, but all you have to do is wait by a side door and within 5 minutes, someone’s going to come out and hold the door for you. Here, it’s harder to get into if you are a stranger, but if you know someone, it’s so easy it is to be buzzed in.”
Dominic Binkley, a Bowling Green State University student and Arthur’s boyfriend, said the Lofts are a much better environment than living on BG’s campus.
“This is crazy better than living at the BG dorms,” the sophomore majoring in journalism said. “After spending a few weeks here, I wish I had the freedom that comes with this and I can’t wait till I can get into a place like this of my own.”
Arthurs, like Carlson, loves the kitchen, though she sometimes misses the ease of a meal plan.
“Being able to just go downstairs and have pre-made food waiting for me was great,” the sophomore majoring in creative writing said. “But now, it’s about being able to decide, you know, being able to choose what I put in the fridge, and having a full kitchen.”
Arthurs said while her old living space in Ottawa House had a public kitchen, it was difficult to use.
“I didn’t have any pots and pans, so I’d have to rent them and they might not even have what I actually needed, and it would be more of a hassle then I needed – it was just easier to go down to the dining hall.”
However, both girls agree the best feature of the apartment is the upright washer and dryer combo.
“I can take a load, just throw it in the washer and go do other stuff without having to worry about someone taking it out or putting it somewhere,” Carlson said. “And I don’t have to worry about paying $3 every time I want to do a load of laundry, like I would have to in a dorm laundry room. Also, I don’t have to wait until I can find the time to go and spend an entire night doing laundry.”