I want you to imagine a time when you would pay $100 for something that allowed you access to where you lived, but not to place you actually needed to go. Further, that $100 thing had no power or authority, outside of preventing you from getting a parking ticket where you live. That is the parking pass situation for “family housing.”
Each year, we have to pay $100 dollars per car for a sticker to park our vehicles in the parking lot close to our units. Even though “family housing” is considered on campus, it is located at the farthest edge of campus. From where we are to the pharmacy building is a 10-minute walk, 15-minutes to the edge of main campus, and 25 to 30-minute walk to the back edge of campus. During nice days, this is okay. This is Michigan and Big Rapids where the annual snowfall is in 20″ range. There are times when walking to class is not an option. Unfortunately, our parking passes do not allow us to park on campus. Park in front of our home, yes, but not on campus.
Having a permit to park at home is bad enough. Now add in that almost everyone here has two cars; it makes for a very crowded parking lot. But we all have parking permits, surely the school has an organization system for this? Nope. The police department has NO clue where each car really goes in relation to where someone is living. In the past, if one person registered two cars, one car had to be parked at the island in the middle of the lot. Now, if you have two cars, you have two people register them and avoid the island altogether.
But wait, it gets better. There are people who move here, then invite their friends and family to live with them. They bring their cars and problems. Often they do not get parking permits instead there is a known routine for the parking officer, just make sure your car is not here to avoid the tickets. No amount of complaining by student-residents does anything about the parking situation. Hasn’t in four years.
So you have an idea about our place, management, and parking, now neighbors. In four and a half-years we have gotten to know seven families. People who move into “family housing” seem to, as a generality, have very little interest in interacting with anyone in the court. There is very little sense of community and rarely do you see neighbors helping each other out. There are exceptions, but as a rule, “family housing” is a lot like the stereotype of New York-nobody knows nothing.
I imagine that a lot of people move here knowing that they will be leaving soon, so why bother. Others, just have no interest in making friends. You might think the foreign students would have a hard time, but they have a really good social system. Members from the existing community greet, assist with moves, transportation, and other needs for incoming foreign students. Seeing this in action is amazing.
An interesting trend, has been watching a family move-in and within two weeks their extended family moves in with them. I have no idea why an entire family would want to move to campus housing, but this happens several times each year. Obviously, having people who are not attending college creates its own set of problems, but rarely do these get addressed.
I would like to write about the positives of living in “family housing,” but there are few:
- It is cheaper that renting out an apartment
- It is close to campus
- Utilities are part of the semester rent
- Mostly quiet, more quiet than not, but when noise happens…
To someone’s credit, there have been attempts to create a community by individuals and the college, but they never seem to take off. My advice to anyone looking to move into “family housing” anywhere is to thoroughly investigate the situation. Make the time to talk to people living there, because as much as I have written about “family housing,” there are few other issues to go in another 500 Words.