To Dorm or Not to Dorm?
The decision of where to live can be a tough choice for students at UB. Living on campus or moving into an off-campus apartment both offer benefits and drawbacks and students are forced to weigh competing considerations in selecting their residence of choice.
Living on campus, for example, tends to integrate students more fully into the campus and the university community.
"There is definitely a benefit to living on campus," said Tom Tiberi, associate director for residential operations. "By living on campus you completely experience that college experience. When you live off-campus it is harder to get the complete college experience; plus, you tend not to have a certain tie to campus, as compared to those who live on campus."
Life in the residence halls or on-campus apartments offers students proximity to academia, and athletic or school-sponsored events, in addition to freeing students from the stress and time-consumption that accompanies commuting to campus.
"Dorm life is one of the best things about college," said Natalie Robinson an on-campus resident.
Not all campus residents concur with Robinson's characterization of dorm living.
Jeannlis Sanchez, a senior biology major who lives off campus, said, "Dormitory life is an essential part of the college experience. But with all due respect, not everyone is clean and I do not approve of co-ed dorms."
"Plus," she added, "UB dorms look like Alcatraz. Dorm life totally discourages me from living on campus."
Life off-campus can offer residents more privacy and more of a separation between school and home, as well as a more individualized and adult environment. That environment comes with the price of having to pay monthly bills for rent and utilities, although some argue that off-campus apartments are less pricey than their university counterparts.
Amie Steinbach, a Flint Village resident, said, "off-campus costs seem more reasonable as to what you actually pay for and get back in return."
Annually, a student living in the residence halls pays $4,478 for a single room, $3,718 for a double room, $3,574 for a triple room or $3,186 for a four-person room. If a student opts for a 12-month lease in an on-campus apartment, the monthly rent runs from $555 for a one-bedroom apartment to $490 for a two-bedroom apartment to $415 for a four-bedroom apartment.
The Triad Apartments, located off Millersport Highway, or the Amherst Manor Apartments both offer an alternative to students tired of residence hall life. Rent in the Triad Apartments is $700 for a two-bedroom apartment, including heat, water, air-conditioning, security system, cable and off-street parking. The Amherst Manor Apartments, located on Amherst Manor Drive in Williamsville, offer two-bedroom apartments for the cost of $625, which includes water, laundry facilities and off-street parking.
Katie Reilly, a UB student living off-campus, said, "I pay $400 a month for rent. That includes heat, water and cable and about $50 extra monthly for electricity."
Students living off-campus must fend for themselves in terms of food preparation, without the convenient availability of campus meal plans, which is seen as a blessing by some and a hassle by others.
Dining halls and cafeterias are available in all the residence hall complexes and in locations along the academic spine, in addition to non-university eating areas located in The Commons. Minutes away by car are the restaurants and supermarkets on Niagara Falls Boulevard or Maple Road, further expanding student choices.
One major drawback to the convenience of food on campus is some students' low regard for the offerings.
"The quality of food you get here at UB discourages me from eating on-campus," said Anthony Saad, senior international business major. "You get more and better food for your money eating off-campus."
Sanchez pointed out that on-campus food is often more expensive than food prices at Tops, Wegmans or any of the other markets located in the surrounding communities.
"UB intentionally jacks up the prices, knowing they have a monopolized control over the student body here," Sanchez said.
According to the FSA Web site, "All freshmen living on-campus must purchase a meal plan both semesters, but look at all the options!" FSA offers students four different meal plan options: the flex-fourteen plan, $2,600; the flex-nine plan, $2,520; the flex-seven, $2,250; and the flex-five, $1,980.
The alternative is to purchase food off-campus, which some students consider a better bargain.
Reilly stated, "campus stores are more expensive because they cater to students who don't get off campus very often. The prices at CVS are insane."
A half-gallon of milk, for example, costs $1.70 at Tops, $1.89 at UB Campus Tees and Snacks and $1.99 at CVS. For a half-pint of milk in Putnams, students pay 65 cents.
A half-gallon of Tropicana orange juice is $3.89 at Tops and $4.19 at UB Campus Tees and Snacks. CVS sells a half-gallon of Crowley orange juice for $2.29.
A box of Kellogg's Pop Tarts sell two for $4 at Tops, $2.69 each at UB Campus Tees and Snacks and $1.99 each at CVS.
Some on-campus residents find it difficult to shop in grocery stores, although UB tries to make transportation easier through the provision of the Blue Bird shuttle and bus system.
The busing connects UB's North and South campuses and links the suburban North Campus to shopping areas and the subway station located just off South Campus. For students who live close enough to South, the transportation may offer an alternative to commuting.
"Commuting can get expensive because of the gas you use every week to get to and from school," said Saad. "Also it can be expensive if you live far from campus, it makes you spend money on campus for food."
Beyond actual monetary costs, parking at UB is a well-known difficulty for commuters.
Brian Murphy, a senior psychology major who lives off-campus, said he considers "having to find a parking spot is an extreme nuisance. Having to hike from Governors E Lot to Clemens in mid-January, when you're already late, is nothing but frustrating."
Natalie Robinson, an on-campus resident, agreed.
"The parking situation is a hassle. You can never find a place to park."