Sitting on the wood floor in the living room of her cozy two-bedroom apartment in the Northwood III housing complex on North Campus, Art and Design sophomore Kristen Shenk seems right at home.
Shenk likes the amenities and apartment-style living that Northwood offers, but says its distance from Central Campus is a burden.
“It’s a little quiet and it might not seem like a campus environment,” she said.
Shenk is one of nearly 400 undergraduates who live in the Northwood III housing community. The University started to force undergraduates of sophomore standing and above in Northwood III in the fall of 2004 after the University accidentally admitted too many new freshman. Previously, Northwood III had been restricted to student families.
Since then, the University has housed overflow from the residence halls in the secluded location, much to the displeasure of students hoping for a prime spot in a dorm on Central Campus convenient to classes and other activities.
“It’s not geared toward undergraduates,” Engineering sophomore Tom Voorheis said. “I have this roommate and we have this apartment, but there’s not a lot of interaction in general – it doesn’t feel like a social environment.”
Shenk said she requested Northwood housing because she likes the freedom the units offer.
Northwood housing is as close as University housing gets to providing students with an apartment lifestyle – including doorbells, individual kitchens, proximity to public roads and access to parking spots.
“It’s like living in a regular apartment, but you don’t have to deal with extra stuff, which is nice,” Shenk said.
Compared with other housing options, Northwood III has a high price tag. Off-campus housing in an apartment or house costs vary from $300 to $600 per month, depending on the condition of the property and the proximity to campus. Residence hall rooms are a bit more pricey ranging from $600 to $800 per month. Northwood III pricing tops both traditional residence halls and off-campus housing, offering apartments starting at $580 and running up to $1033.
But the Northwood version of off-campus living offers perks that most off-campus housing leases lack. All utilities except long-distance phone calls are combined into a single monthly bill. Residents also have access to all University services such as buses to Central Campus, Department of Public Safety surveillance and 24-hour maintenance services.
“It is a good opportunity to transition from the residence hall experience to off-campus living because you have the benefits of apartment living plus access to University services,” Housing spokesman Alan Levy said.
LSA junior Emily Aukes, who transferred to the University this year, said she likes aspects of the Northwood lifestyle, such as the ability to have a more private living space, have a car and make her own meals.
But she said would have rather lived in a residence hall if given the option.
Several students said the housing complex makes them feel isolated from the rest of campus.
Northwood residents have the option of either taking the University bus service or paying $25 for a yearly parking pass.
“It’s a pain having to take the bus down to Central to go out, but at the same time, it’s nice because I have classes up here,” Shenk said. “It’s kind of a trade-off.”
The University has always planned to eventually open sections of Northwood to undergraduates, but was forced to do it earlier than planned because of an unexpected influx of freshman, Levy said.
Northwood also fits into a national trend toward offering apartment-style housing options at universities, Levy said.
Northwood III pros and cons
Benefits, drawbacks of living in complex:
-Benefits: Simulates off-campus, apartment-style living but retains certain amenities of living in University housing
-Drawbacks: More expensive than most off-campus and traditional dorm housing and far from Central Campus