by Catherine Brewer ’20
With a freshman class of 1,127 students entering Providence College, the Office of Residence Life has expanded housing options this year with a Hybrid Housing program. The program allows select students who originally planned to live on campus to select new housing off campus through the 02908 Club, but still pay the College for housing. According to Jana Valentine, director of Residence Life, there are 75 students participating in the program.
“This housing option was developed as a result of the larger-than-expected yield of the incoming class,” said Valentine. She explained that the houses that were made available by the 02908 Club are in “close proximity” to campus. Of the program participants, most of them are in the class of 2019, and there are “a few” from the class of 2020. The same pricing was offered to all students.
Camille Greaney ’19 is living with seven of her friends, in an eight-person apartment. However, originally, the group was housed in two separate four-person apartments in Davis Hall; and this plan was organized last spring at the general housing selection through Residence Life.
Greaney explained that as the school year came to a close in May, she completed a housing survey issued by Residence Life. At the end of the survey, there was a question asking whether Greaney would be interested in off-campus housing if it were available.
“Over the summer, a survey was sent to seniors who had chosen to live on campus,” explained Valentine. “We wanted to understand the reasons seniors were choosing to stay on campus. The results of the survey enabled us to understand that we have a population of seniors who selected to live on, but would welcome the opportunity to live off campus.”
On July 7, Kevin Hillery, associate director of Residence Life, contacted Greaney via cell phone to ask her if she would be interested in living in off-campus housing for the 2018-2019 year.
The deal would include an off-campus house of their choice from the remaining available options for the price of living in a four-person suite, the reimbursement of the College’s laundry and parking fees, free utilities for the full year, a furnished living room by the 02908 Club, additional furnishings courtesy of the College upon request, and a free 75-block meal plan for on-campus dining for the fall semester.
“We had to act really, really quickly,” said Greaney of the decision-making process. That night, Greaney and her friends all completed the necessary forms, including signed permission from their parents to move off-campus. Once they were processed, the house hunting began. Valentine explained that students were invited to tour potential options in July and August.
Greaney described the house she chose as a “new piece of property” since they were to be welcomed with renovations upon arrival in August, included an updated kitchen and bathroom. While the group was excited and happily agreed to live there, they were also confused and disappointed with several aspects of the program and their new home. “It was a work in progress when we moved in on Saturday,” Greaney said. The home did not have hot water connected when they arrived, but they were able to have access to it later in the day. The group also struggled with communication between the College and the landlord.
“It felt like they kind of threw out promises at the beginning,” explained Greaney. While she feels that most of these promises have now been fulfilled, the group found it difficult to find out what was really going on with their new home over the summer. Communication was inconsistent between the College, the landlord, and the group, as individuals or the whole group would be contacted without explanation. Greaney felt that Hillery was always quick to respond, but that they were never provided with much information.
Karalyn Rennie ’19 was offered to participate in the program, but she and her friends decided to stay on campus for several reasons. “We were tempted to go with the hybrid housing because of the savings and the benefits of off campus life,” she explained. “However, in the end, we didn’t really find a house that allowed the six people in our apartment to live together and not have random roommates.”
Rennie added that she did not want to lose the convenience of being close to all that campus has to offer. “The options that Residence Life had left when we were seriously looking were too far for our group or in an area we didn’t know that well,” she said.
“Overall, the house is nice,” Greaney said. “Of course, there are little things that could be better. But overall, we like it.” As for the free fall semester meal plan, Greaney felt uncertain about how she and her friends will utilize it. “I do think it will be helpful when we are on campus,” she explained, adding that she prefers to return home during the day to cook her meals.
While this year is the first for Hybrid Housing, it may not be around for long. “The program will continue for another year while we evaluate occupancy in relation to class size and growing enrollment,” said Valentine.