Summer housing options remain limited for students

For the first summer in recent history, the THs will no longer be a viable option for summer housing. Students will instead be required to stay in Noyes House over the summer to alleviate cleaning stress. Photo By: Marie Solis
For the first summer in recent history, the THs will no longer be a viable option for summer housing. Students will instead be required to stay in Noyes House over the summer to alleviate cleaning stress. Photo By: Marie Solis
For the first summer in recent history, the THs will no longer be a viable option for summer housing. Students will instead be required to stay in Noyes House over the summer to alleviate cleaning stress. Photo By: Marie Solis

By the time the month of May comes to a close, most Vassar students will already be off campus and cloistered in air-conditioned rooms. But students staying on-campus in Noyes House this summer for work or research must further ensure the sticky weather.

Kristen Caccavale ’16 is staying at Vassar over break and is preparing for the heat. “I will be bringing as many fans as humanly possibly,” she wrote in an emailed statement.

In some previous years, certain Vassar summer students had the option of staying in a select number of Town Houses (THs). For the upcoming summer, however, the Office of Residential Life has decided to keep all the THs unoccupied. The reason given was to provide general up keeping and maintenances on the dwellings as wells as to expedite the moving in and out process at the beginning of the fall semester.

As Director of Residential Life Luis Inoa said, “This year the idea is to give the THs a break. They’re really well used during the year and need attention.”

He continued to explain how the period in mid-August when students move out of where they had been staying during the summer and into their Fall room or apartment assignments is too narrow of a time window for necessary inspections or repairs.

Said Inoa, “It is a transition of getting those students out during the summer in a timely fashion that allows us to have those apartments and rooms prepared for the fall and that has put a particular strain on the ROC [Residential Operations Center] and buildings and grounds.”

Some of the general maintenance that apartments require, according to Inoa, can include adding a fresh coat of paint on the walls and checking if items like refrigerators are in working condition.

Nonetheless, Inoa acknowledges that cooking may be difficult for students, but he hopes that the seven kitchens in Noyes will provide the greatest flexibility compared to other dorms. According to Inoa, putting all the students in apartments meanwhile is neither easy nor feasible. “It wouldn’t be a rational thing for us to do ever,” he said.

A few years ago, ResLife did experiment by placing the over 100 summer students in the THs. But Inoa said that the results were negative. The apartment spaces were not ready or clean by the start of the academic year for the next wave of students.

Inoa said, “That year we received the most you know critique and concern from parents and students moving in the fall”

Staying in Noyes, Caccavale, who is a Fords Scholar, will be assisting Associate Professor of German Studies Elliot Schreiber with his research on nineteenth-century German children’s toys, games and festivals. Hailing from the small town of Medina, OH, Caccavale said that the Fords Scholar Program, which pairs students with faculty mentors for a collaborative project related to the humanities, gives her a summer opportunity she could otherwise not find close to home.

“I also did not want to have to arrange for a place to stay in NYC if I got an internship there or somewhere similar, as that can get very expensive” she wrote. “I needed to make money and I needed to save money, so working on campus for a great program like Ford Scholars seemed like a very lucrative and smart option for me. While an apartment is tempting, staying on campus will ultimately give me the most bang for my buck, at $6/day to live in Noyes.”

Even so, this money-saving option has its pitfalls. For one, students living on campus during the summer do not have the luxury of swiping in at the All Campus Dining Center whenever hunger pangs strike. The Retreat, meanwhile, operates under limited hours during the summer and closes before dinner.

When it comes to food, it is up to Caccavale and all the other students living in Noyes to fend for themselves. Caccavale said she does not look forward to cooking in these spaces with over a hundred students.

She wrote, “It is going to be very hot and humid this summer, and cooking in a tiny, enclosed space does not sound like it will mesh well.”

Additionally, Caccavale said she expects the kitchenettes to become crowded around meal times. “I imagine it will be very hot and miserable to have to cook with them, as well as having to share them with so many people, with Noyes having more people living in it this year than in others”

But before students can even do the cooking, they have to get the ingredients in the first place. Some expressed that what was more difficult than the cooking was the shopping.

This summer, Tre Artis ’15 will be working as a library assistant at the library.

Wrote Artis, “Usually the hardest part about staying at Vassar over the summer is the situation regarding food shopping. For students without cars it is very hard to get access to places such as Stop and Shop. The closest grocery option to the campus is My Market which has a limited variety of food options and many of their goods are more expensive than the same ones you can buy at Stop and Shop.”

As a result, Artis continued, “People with cars often become a vital resource to summer residents.” Artis addressed a third issue he and his peers will encounter in the coming months. He wrote “[S]ummer break students often find themselves bored and looking for something to do. There is a significant lack of things to do during the summer. Most people just go to work, the gym, and or find things to do in their room. That’s really all there is..

Though some see these housing changes as indicative of Res Life’s desire to reduce the number of students staying on campus over the summer, such is not the case.

Concluded Inoa,“The students who are here are her for very important reasons. URSI, undergraduate research, summer institute, Ford Scholars, students who are working, student employment who could certainly use the money. So I don’t know if we want to reduce it. I like where the number is now is fine.”

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