Large housing demand forces overflow off campus
When Seton Hall students thought about which dormitory they would be living in this year, the Talbott Apartments at the Rutgers Newark campus were never a possibility.
However, for almost 90 SHU students, living almost five miles away from the Seton Hall campus became a harsh reality right before the beginning of the fall semester.
In recent years, the waitlist for housing at Seton Hall was never a major worry for residents attending the university. Students who couldn’t initially be placed in a bed would be put on the waitlist that would eventually wither down over the summer, giving almost everyone a place to live on campus. Students who assumed that this would be the case this year were proven wrong.
About three weeks before the 2015 fall semester was going to begin, students on the waitlist were alerted by the Department of Housing and Residence Life that beds on the Seton Hall campus were most likely not going to open up. At this time, students were alerted that an alternative option for housing was still available at the Rutgers campus in Newark.
“For the last few years, we have had a waitlist for housing. But every year there is a ‘melt’ of students who change their mind about living on campus, or perhaps have a family situation or a budget crisis that forces them to give up housing on campus,” Dr. Tracy Gottlieb, Vice President of Student Services, said in an email. “But this year the waitlist never dissipated. When we realized that this was a problem we investigated possible solutions. Housing Director Tara Hart contacted Rutgers University Newark and was pleased that they were able to help us.”
“The students (placed at Rutgers) were not delinquent and they did nothing wrong. We had more students who wanted housing than we had beds,” said Dr. Gottlieb. “The students who were affected by this shortage will be the first returning students to select their rooms next year, provided they are registered for classes and in good standing academically and socially.”
For now, the students placed in the Talbott Apartments have a very different dorm style than the residents at Seton Hall.
“(The apartment) has one huge living room, a full kitchen with a joining bathroom, two sinks and two bedrooms,” said sophomore James Robertson, who was placed in Talbott this year.
When asked how he first felt when he was placed at the Rutgers Newark campus, Robertson said that he wasn’t too upset.
“It’s better than being homeless for the semester. Rutgers is actually pretty spacious so it’s not too bad. It’s better than Boland, so it’s got that going for it.”
Although Rutgers Newark is only five miles from campus, it can take from 15 minutes to a half hour or longer, depending on traffic, to make the commute. Robertson has his own to shuttle between campuses, but he said that the commute makes things a little more difficult than last year. “Most of my friends are here on campus (at Seton Hall), so it’s sometimes annoying to go back and forth,” said Robertson.
Justice Trent, another sophomore placed in Rutgers Newark, said has learned to live a distance from campus.
“At first I didn’t like the dorm,” said Trent. “But I’ve grown to like it because from what I hear it’s a lot better than what other kids who live on campus have.”
Trent feels that he has more pros than other students living on campus. “I have a bathroom and full kitchen, as well as a living area,” said Trent. “The only real con is the inconvenience of being 20 minutes away from campus and dealing with an unreliable shuttle service.”
For those don’t have a car, a shuttle and other transportation options are being provided for students traveling between Seton Hall and Rutgers Newark.
“We have contracted with Air Brook Limousine (the provider of our SHUFLY Shuttles) for an additional, separate shuttle to transport our students to and from the Newark Campus,” Patrick Linfante, Director of the Department of Public Safety, said in an email.
Dr. Gottlieb added, “For the first two weeks of classes, the shuttle will run non-stop from 6:45 a.m. until 11:10 p.m. Then, we will gauge usage and make good decisions about the shuttle.”
Missing the shuttle shouldn’t be an issue for students living at Rutgers.
“We introduced NJ Transit to our new students on move-in day by going in a group from the Newark Broad St. Station to South Orange,” said Dr. Gottlieb. “In addition, we have permitted the 27 students who have access to cars to park at SHU and at RU-Newark.”
According to Dr. Gottlieb, students can also use the Uber program to travel between the two campuses.
“We don’t want any student missing a class because they missed the shuttle, so students can take an Uber ride in that scenario in order to get to class on time,” said Dr. Gottlieb.
The Department of Housing and Residence Life plans to slowly bring students placed at Rutgers back to the Seton Hall campus as more beds become available. But when this will become possible is still unknown.
As director of Public Safety, Linfante offers this advice to students living at Rutgers Newark for the time being.
“Be aware of your surroundings at all times and trust your instincts,” Linfante said. “If you are being followed (or think so), immediately walk into the nearest public place and ask for help or use a phone to summon for help. If you are assaulted or accosted, do not resist.”
And above all, he said, “Remember your life is worth more than any personal possession.”
Ashley Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.