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Townhouses referred to as ‘their own community’

11/15/2010
By:

Stephanie Paulino

News Writer

After being accepted last-minute to Southern, graduate student Robi-lyn Beaudry said she didn’t really have time to look for an apartment nearby, so she opted instead to live on campus.

“Aside from that, I’m a little afraid of New Haven and I didn’t want to just find a random person to share an apartment with,” said Beaudry, a communication disorders student from West Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Beaudry is one of 130 students living in the townhouse apartments this year, which, according to Michael Galbiscek, North Campus hall director, are a “separate entity on campus.”

The townhouses are part of the North Campus Residence Complex, which are located just past the New Haven town line, in neighboring Hamden. The apartments have their own hall council with their own budget.

Three community advisers live within the townhouses, he said.

There are currently 26 graduate students living in the townhouses. Undergraduate students who are over 21 and have over 100 credits can also apply to live in the apartments.

Galbiscek, a Southern alumnus and former townhouse resident, said by accepting a placement in a townhouse, students take more ownership of themselves.

“They are instructed to follow the same set of procedures,” said Galbiscek. “Frankly their front door is the front door of the townhouse, so while we expect them to follow everything, we do trust that the students that are over there do take the appropriate procedures.”

Realizing the townhouse population is of a different demographic than most of the residence halls on campus, Galibiscek said over the last couple of years, more has been done to establish the townhouses as their own community.

A volleyball court was put up and townhouse staff has tried to develop programs specific to the residents’ needs, taking into account that many graduate and upperclassman courses are only offered at night.

“To get to them it’s not, ‘here, we’ll give them food they’ll come,” said Galbiscek. “They’re already beyond that. They’re into the ‘what can we get out of this?’”

Rather than “social” programming common in underclassman dorms, North Campus staff has tried to offer financial planning, graduate education and professional networking activities.

Chris Knickerbocker, one of the townhouse community advisors, said it’s tough getting townhouse students engaged in activities because few students remain on campus during the weekends.

“It’s a commuter school and even the people that do live on campus all go home on the weekends so you don’t have that same sense of community,” said Knickerbocker.

Knickerbocker, an exercise science major with a physical science education concentration, is working on his second bachelors.

“When I first went through school when I was 18 and moved away from home it was a completely different experience,” said Knickerbocker. “For me, everything I do here is about getting ready to move on.”

Knickerbocker, who is president of the Physical Education and Exercise Physiology clubs on campus, said he tells his residents and organization members that at any stage, the campus experience is “what you make of it.”

“You need to get real hands-on experience before you graduate,” said Knickerbocker. “So you have to join professional organizations, you have to go to conferences, you have to get internships, and you have to volunteer to be able to make yourself competitive to get a job.”

For Beaudry, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2009 and came to Southern because of its affordability, the townhouses were not quite what she expected.

“They were nicer than I thought,” said Beaudry. “I expected it to be all graduate students but it’s not. It doesn’t really make a difference.”

Like Knickerbocker, Beaudry said the social aspect of campus life is not her priority.

“I’m not really involved. It’s not something that’s concerning me right now because I’m so focused on my studies,” said Beaudry.

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