Students react to housing project
The University commenced its construction of the Livingston housing project yesterday, a major aspect of the vision for Livingston campus.
The residence hall is expected to house 1,500 students and will consist of multiple mid-rise apartment complexes. Meanwhile, construction is scheduled to finish in time for the 2012 fall semester.
As the parking lots around Livingston campus are closing off and construction machinery is moving in, students expressed a range of different reactions to the production.
Some students believe new housing is the answer to the housing crunch, which in the past displaced more than 500 students off campus and into permanent living arrangements at the Crown Plaza in Somerset.
"Making dorms is better than staying at the hotels," said Arsafa Mahmoot, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. "They were so far away. It's a good thing they are doing something productive."
Sung Moon, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the old bus route between the hotel and the College Avenue campus was highly inconvenient.
"It's inefficient for people to ride a specific bus going to hotels and campuses," Moon said. "If they're in Livingston in a dorm room, they can just ride the buses fairly quickly."
Stephanie Ndupu, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, believes creation of housing on Livingston campus has been a long time coming.
"I think it's really good because Livingston is the one campus that is most outdated," Ndupu said. "There have been a lot of renovations at all the campuses, with the exception of Livingston up until about two years ago when they started the major renovations."
A new residence hall is one of the main things that will really benefit students, she said.
"The [quality of] dorms at Livingston are very poor," Ndupu said. "So I think getting a new dorm area is excellent. Since we have a lot of parking space, I don't think that's an issue."
Christine Jose, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, foresees the new construction posing issues with commuter students.
"They should have extra parking during the construction," Jose said. "If that becomes a problem, it's going to be annoying — just a temporary one since it's going to take years to finish.
Isioma Chukwuani, a School of Arts and Sciences alumna, sympathizes with commuters who are losing a potential parking spot.
"Parking is a sticky situation at Rutgers. It's really expensive," Chukwuani said. "I do understand because a lot of people try to get parking on Livingston for commuters because it's the cheapest. Eliminating an entire parking lot could harm commuters who are trying to park."
Chukwuani said if she had to choose between keeping a parking lot and creating a residence hall, she would pick a new place for students to live.
"I've honestly never seen the parking lot completely filled with cars," she said. "We do need dorms, especially on Livingston. We've been talking about there at least being an apartment there. There aren't any apartment dorms on Livingston."
Melissa Murano, a School of Arts and Science senior, is a commuter and understands the parking issues at the University.
"Now that they are going to do this construction, it's going to be more of a problem, and there's going to be more traffic," Murano said. "[People] stand in the middle of the road as you pass them, and you don't want to hit them."
Commuters have to park further back in the lot and faculty has a priority when it comes to parking, Murano said.
"They should just put a parking deck," she said. "It would save space and they could add on to the pre-existing space. That saves trees."
Some students believe the new project on Livingston will change the culture of the campus, where a majority of its residents are first-year students.
"[Livingston] is a lot [quieter], but I don't find it nearly as interesting as living at College Avenue and around older students," said Raaghib Quinn, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. "Everything is in the same area — you can get to know people. It's like a small suburban community."
The construction can potentially attract students who are normally not interested in Livingston as well as change the way people view it, he said.
"It's a new building. Obviously, its going to have the newest renovations and nicest living experience inside the dorm," Quinn said. "Livingston might not just be the small [first-year] lowest quality dining hall campus anymore. It might just be more well-rounded."
Devesh Ramchandani, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the construction would add a greater appeal to the quiet and small nature of Livingston campus.
"I've heard a lot of people say 2013 Livingston is going to be the place to live," Ramchandani said. "The new student center, a new dining hall, the dorms — it's like a good package altogether."