Improving life in the Heights
Chelsie Hinckley, Staff Writer
For many UB students, living off campus is an attractive alternative to dorm life – there’s more privacy, no shared bathroom and the feeling of complete responsibility. But many don’t consider the potential issues that living off campus can cause.
Students living off campus, especially those living near South Campus in the University Heights, are not only held to UB rules and regulations, but to the rules of their new landlords as well, which can cause issues as college students experiment with their first real tastes of freedom.
Last year, UB established the Office of Off-Campus Student Services, which is working to meet some of these issues as well as help create a sense of community that the office feels is long missing from the Heights.
If they break any regulation or cause trouble in their neighborhoods, they can be held liable and fined.
In addition, students living in houses in the University Heights that are caught throwing more than one loud and rowdy party are first warned and then expelled, according to new regulations put in place by the university.
Outside of the rules and regulations focus, Off-Campus Student Services also directs a lot of attention toward community involvement. On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, the office held a block party and safety fair, attracting an estimated 750 people. It brought together residents and businesses from the University Heights neighborhood to share information about organizations in the community. The fire department also held a demonstration on how quickly an apartment can burn from a candle.
Off-Campus Student Services also conducted “operation door hanger” before the beginning of the academic year, in which they distributed 2,700 recycled shopping bags to homes in the neighborhood with important numbers to call, information on recycling and first aid kits in an effort to make the Heights a safer place to live.
Senior mentor Stacey Fredrick lives in off campus housing on Highgate Avenue. She said that although she has read though the safety tips provided on the Off-Campus Student Services Web site, she hasn’t actually used any of the services they provide. She does, however, use the Anti-Rape Task Force Safety Shuttles on a regular basis.
Another responsibility of Off-Campus Student Services is to help with situations that often arise with apartment living standards and leases. Dan Ryan, director of off campus student services, discussed one such situation.
“Many students are living in apartments with landlords that are taking advantage of them because they don’t understand the terms of their lease,” Ryan said.
The office is readily available to help with unsafe living conditions, including bad plumbing, poor electricity and landlords that try to take students’ security deposits and not return them.
The central goal of Off-Campus Student Services is to help students get more involved in their community, enabling them to be safer and more responsible citizens. By implementing new changes this academic year, the office is helping students who live off campus stay connected to the school.