Pros and Cons of Student Housing Options

Students attending SUNY Oswego have a variety of options for housing. We interviewed several people living in various places on and off campus, to compare the structure, quality, and price of each living space. We also wanted to get an idea of the quality of life they experience in these spaces.

DISTANCE OF HOUSING OPTIONS

We compared the location and distance of each housing option to because distance tends to be a deciding factor when students are choosing where they want to live. We chose the Marano Campus Center (MCC) as the reference point of comparison because it’s at the center of campus.

(If above interactive map does not work, CLICK TO VIEW THE MAP.)

The distances may vary for people who live in the Village and Lakeside Commons depending on the location of the specific home.

STRUCTURE OF LIVING SPACE

Shakira Bryant lives at Lakeside Commons, a new housing area southwest of the campus. The size of the rooms at Lakeside Commons depends on the particular building. Each house has its own size and layout. Bryant lives in a master suite, which has 4 bedrooms, each with a walk-in closet and its own bathroom. The houses of Lakeside Commons are newly furnished and have all of the basic house amenities: a bathtub, a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, a microwave, an oven and a stove.

Senior Taylor Berman-Scozzafava lives in The Village, located at the southwest corner of the campus. The houses in The Village have a living room, kitchen and laundry room on the first floor, with bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor. Cleaning materials are provided in the downstairs closet. Berman-Scozzafava says she has had no technical or structural problems so far, though she knows that she can call in a service request at any time. She finds it convenient that the service request people can come in on weekends.

Sophomore Lizeth Ortega lives in Oneida Hall, on west campus. As a Resident Assistant (RA), she gets a room to herself. In her room, she has a twin-size bed like the other students, a desk, a lamp, two built-in closets along with an armoire. They also get a garbage can, recycling bin, chair and small table. The room also comes with a small drawer underneath the desk and two dressers underneath the bed. The basement is where the laundry is located and the kitchen is on the first floor. This kitchen is also always open.

Lizeth’s room in Oneida

Senior Kellsie Zacholl lives in a regular double room in Funnelle Hall. Funnelle has men and women on the same floor but one side is all women and the other side is all men. In her room there are two built-in closets, two desks, one lamp, two twin size beds, two recycling bins, two garbage bins, a mirror and a built-in light above the doorway. There are also two dressers underneath the bed and small drawer underneath the desk. The laundry room and the kitchen are both in the basement.


 

Kellsie’s room in Funnelle

Ben Decrenza lives in Premier Living Suites. The place has four bedrooms, two bathrooms with double sinks, a full kitchen, a living room and a balcony, and come fully furnished. Premier Living Suites also include many amenities such as a barbeque area, fire pit, gym, movie theater, video game room and game room lounge. The perks of living in these suites do not just stop there. They also periodically offer deals such as 50 percent off tickets from Cheap Seats or free ice cream at Six Scoops.  

Mike Pistone rents a two-story house on Schuyler Street. The house has four bedrooms with two upstairs and two downstairs. The house contains a living room, one bathroom, and a kitchen, all of which are located downstairs. The house comes “fully furnished” with a washer, dryer, beds, desks, and couches.

QUALITY OF LIVING SPACE

At Lakeside Commons, everything is brand new. Everyone in the house signs their own lease, according to Bryant. The commons building in the center of the area has a computer room, a conference room, a study room with a smart board and dry erase boards, a game room and a gym. There is also a sitting area with chairs, tables, couches and a fireplace.

Downstairs lounge in the Lakeside Commons commons building

Berman-Scozzafava describes the neighborhood of The Village as “gorgeous” and feels very comfortable living there.

Ortega said the room in Funnelle is a good size and has enough space for one person. “You have the option to change the setup of your room,” she said. “You can accommodate so you have more space.”

She said the lighting of the room could be better and the laundry room could be bigger. She also said there could be more machines and the machines themselves could be “more technologically advanced.” Ortega said the front desk plays a part in the quality of life. “The front desk does a good job with needed information, hours and items available to rent,” she remarked.

Zacholl said the building is big but the room itself is small. She said the furniture in the room is “sturdy” and everything does “what they’re supposed to do.” She also said the front desk does a good job at having everything a resident might need. Zacholl says the cleanliness of the bathroom depends on the floor.

“The ladies leave toilet paper all over the floor, food in the sink, hair in the showers, and sometimes there’s throw-up in the bathtub,” Zacholl said. She also said that Funnelle is an old building and mostly needs new windows.

While there are plenty of amenities at  Premier Living Suites, the quality of them can be questionable. “The quality is OK, but things often break, and sometimes it takes a long time for someone to get out and fix it,” Decrenza said.

Pistone did not have many good things to say about his rented house. “The quality of everything was pretty bad, all the couches had rips and the dryer has a huge hole in the lint catcher,” he said. “It seems like everything he provided was badly handmade or from garage sales.”

COST OF LIVING

Rent at Lakeside Commons generally depends on the house and the room in question. Bryant pays about $810 per month, with a renter’s and insurance fee of $15.

The cost of room and board for The Village depends on the year, and the student’s academic year. Those who have been attending SUNY Oswego longer have their price reduced. Berman-Scozzafava pays about $5,100. She spends about $60-$120 every other week on food since that is when she gets paid.

One of the benefits of being an RA is having housing paid for. Ortega would have to pay $4,295 if she was not an RA. Another benefit of being an RA is having half of the unlimited meal plan paid for. Lizeth only has to pay for $1,200 for her meal plan. “It’s still a lot of money,” she added.

Zacholl’s room and board costs $4,095. She uses loans and other financial aid to help her pay for this. “Before I had to pay out of pocket when I had 12 meals last semester,” she said. She now pays for seven meals a week. This costs $1,830. She occasionally buys groceries to make her own food as well.

The rent for a smaller sized apartment in Premier Living Suites is $750 a month and you must sign a 10-month lease.

“The price isn’t bad for what you’re getting but there are definitely cheaper options elsewhere,” Decrenza said.

The Suites have a meal plan that for $50 dollars a month you get dinner on Monday nights, pizza on Fridays, and continental breakfast. The rest of the food comes from groceries which is $50-75 a month

Pistone and his housemates are currently paying $425 a month. Payments started in June of 2018 and will end April of 2019. When the agreement was signed the renters had to produce last month’s rent and a $235 security deposit, which will be returned as long as the house isn’t damaged. Pistone currently estimates his grocery bill to be $100 a month with an extra $20 going to fast food.

QUALITY OF LIFE

Bryant says she feels very comfortable living in her house at Lakeside Commons, though since the buildings are still very new sometimes the floors make noise due to the house settling. Lakeside Commons often hosts events that are open to all, usually including free catered food and raffles. Tours often come through and offer free pizza to tourists.

The student workers at Lakeside Commons are diligent and helpful, according to Bryant. They are very willing to answer any questions people have. Bryant says that she does not interact with her neighbors much, and does not know much about them. She does not walk around much, and mostly just passes through the parking lots. She finds it very easy to do homework in her room. She says her desk is nice and her chair is comfortable.

For Berman-Scozzafava, having to cook for herself in The Village is not a problem since she grew up with a chef and is already used to cooking regularly. When she does not feel like cooking, she simply eats snacks. She does not find herself interacting with her neighbors relatively often.

 

Berman-Scozzafava eating ramen for dinner

One of the responsibilities of an RA is to ensure a safe and positive environment and relationship with residents in the wing they reside in. “There’s always a group of people who are loud when they’re not supposed to be or doing stuff that they are not supposed to be doing,” Ortega said.

Despite this, Ortega feels she has successfully created a good environment to live in. She also feels like west campus has a bad misconception in the mind of most people. When people think of west campus, they usually think of wild parties. Ortega feels comfortable nonetheless. Lastly, she feels the building has a need for cultural diversity.

The neighbors on Zacholl’s side of the floor tend to stay to themselves, and so does Kellsie. Zacholl’s roommate is also never in their room so Kellsie tends to always have the room to herself, which she does not mind. Each floor and side of the floor has a different environment. Zacholl’s floor is quiet for the most part.

“I am very comfortable. I have lived here for four years,” Zacholl said.

Decrenza describes his neighbors and housemates in Premier Living Suites as “nice enough” and that he has no complaints, “especially compared to the houses I have seen off campus.” However, he admits that he has no plans of living in the Suites next semester and will instead live off campus.

The neighborhood Pistone lives mostly consists of other student renters, a frat house, and a trailer park. The area has not been the best for Pistone and his housemates.

“The neighborhood is bad, I have had my license plate stolen, one of my roommates had their side view mirror taken off, and people often use our parking lot to smoke weed. I don’t care that they’re smoking but them and all the frat kids steal our parking spots,” Pistone said.

The back porch looks out at the Niagara Mohawk Steam Station across the street. The view of the steam station comes with its own set of difficulties.

“The lights from the water tower flash into the rooms so it can be annoying at night. Every once in a while, the water tower makes noises for an entire night that are extremely loud and annoying,” Pistone complained.

With all the negative aspects Pistone listed he still finds value in it. “The house might not be great by any means, but it’s a place to live for cheap, that gives me, my privacy,” he said.

EASE OF ACCESS (TO FOOD AND CAMPUS)

For groceries, Bryant typically takes the bus that goes from Lakeside Commons to Walmart on Sundays from 12pm to 4pm.  The walk from Lakeside Commons to campus, according to Bryant, is relatively short but not safe at night. There is also a bus that goes between Lakeside Commons and the campus, but the times for that bus were previously unposted so it was a matter of estimation to determine when the bus would come.

“Now they have a schedule, now you know where and when the bus is gonna come,” Bryant says.

When she wants to get to the main part of campus for any reason such as food or class, Berman-Scozzafava takes the Blue Route. She finds it very convenient that the bus stop is not far away from her. She buys groceries when she gets paid, which is bi-weekly.

Oneida Hall is connected to Little Page dining hall, so Ortega’s access to food is easy. Access to her classes is a bit more difficult because her classes are in Rich Hall which is across campus. She tends to depend on the bus because walking to class taker her 15 minutes and it uphill. Access to things off campus is easy for her because she has a car.

Funnelle Hall is located in central campus so for Zacholl, classes are at most 10 minutes away. The amount of time to get to class depends on her speed. She has easy access to the dining hall because Cooper dining hall is connected to Funnelle Hall. The pathway to the dining hall is in the basement. With her meal plan and schedule, she tends to get food once a day and the hours of the dining hall work for her. As for things off campus, Zacholl rents a Zipcar and drives herself where she needs to go, although the Zipcar is mainly used to go to Wal-Mart.

Premier Living Suites are located less than a mile from campus. “It’s only about a 3-minute drive for me,” Decrenza said.

If you do not have the means to get to campus yourself or choose not to, a van will shuttle students to and from campus. When comparing the Premier Suites with living downtown, he prefers his current situation. “I love it,” he said. “I used to live downtown but now being closer to school is great.” While the trip to school is closer to class, the location is three miles away from the downtown grocery chains like Wal-Mart, Price Chopper and Aldi’s.

Campus is less than a mile away from Pistone’s house. “With traffic, it takes me usually about five minutes to get to campus,” he said. Going downtown to get groceries is about three miles away by car, which is not that bad, according to Pistone. Having a car is not necessary, however, because there is a bus stop .2 miles away that can take you to campus or downtown to go grocery shopping.

OTHER PROS, CONS AND COMMENTS

Bryant says she very much enjoys living at Lakeside Commons. She likes having her own space and her own bathroom. One unfortunate downside of living there, she said, is that the ability to get to and from Lakeside Commons is very limited for people who do not have a car. The timing of the bus is tricky and can be inconvenient at times.

Berman-Scozzafava likes having her own room, especially since those rooms have air conditioning. However, she dislikes how much money she has to spend on groceries. She also dislikes how far away The Village is from the rest of campus, even if it is only a relatively short bus ride away.

The biggest pros about living in Premier Suites is “The privacy, the size, its proximity to school and the amount of kitchens and bathrooms per person,” Decrenza said. But because of the expense of both groceries and rent, Decrenza said he would not move back in.

“[I like] the privacy, how cost-effective it is, and how close I am to both campus and the downtown area,” Pistone said. He says these factors outweigh the cons of “the cost of grocery shopping, the bad neighborhood, and dealing with the water tower.”

CONCLUSION

With all of this diversity in housing options, students need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each living space in order to decide which option is best for them.

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