The not-so-fresh living conditions of freshmen

by Anna Waletzko, Contributor

As a freshman, when I tell someone I’m living in an apartment instead of a dorm they’re usually envious. This reaction surprises me, until I realize many people don’t know what living in an apartment really means.

While an apartment has it perks, there are many downsides. As it turns out, many freshmen have been relocated to off-campus apartments because of the construction in Zura. When I signed up for on-campus living, I pictured myself in a dorm — being in an apartment has deprived me of a typical freshmen experience.

Many dorms on campus have an open-door policy, but that’s something you just don’t often see in the apartment complexes. I’m a resident of Albert’s College Apartments, which has an outdoor courtyard with rooms all around it.  You don’t always feel the same sense of closeness with your neighbors like you would in the dorms.

There’s also a stronger form of isolation from many of the social events happening on campus. While Chapultepec is also located further off campus than the other dorms, it’s much more social and lively than Zapotec, Toltec or Tarastec.

“The dorms allow freshmen to interact with each other,” residence hall council member and undeclared freshman Riley Swisher said. “There’s a common room for floor mates to hang out.”

There are perks to living in an apartment: I share a bathroom with only three other people, and have a full kitchen and furnished living room. However, the Zapotec apartment building is not as great as it may seem at first glance.

“Living in the apartments means more responsibility and more things to pay for,” Zapotec resident and business freshman Monika Chen said. “We have to clean our bathrooms and our apartment regularly, and there are multiple maintenance problems.”

Since arriving at San Diego State seven weeks ago, my apartment has been exterminated for cockroaches, had a hot water leak, broken garbage disposal and the ceiling in the shower fell through — luckily, no one was in the shower when it happened. Essentially, I’m on a first name basis with all of the maintenance workers in the building.

However, when it came to buying out the apartment buildings, the Office of Housing Administration didn’t have much of a choice. Albert’s College Apartments is owned by Aztec Shops, but SDSU currently has a master lease on three of the buildings. Once Zura is re-opened as a residence hall, the apartments will once again be used for upperclassmen housing. As for the construction in Zura, there are a lot of big changes coming.

“Zura will have new resident rooms, community and study space, additional single stall restrooms on each wing to accommodate privacy for all students and a programmed observation deck on the sixth floor,” Associate Director for the Office of Housing Administration Darrell Hess said.

In the meantime, the relocated freshmen, such as myself, will just have to deal.

“The apartments are both a blessing and a curse,” Chen said.

But when it comes to the battle of apartments versus dorms, I vote dorms. I’ve visited friends in the dorms and what surprised me the most was the massive amount of people wandering in and out of each other’s rooms. The first time I stepped foot in the dorms, I met more people within 10 minutes than I had a week into living in my apartment building.

Dorms may be crowded, smelly and loud at times, but you’re forced to bond with your neighbors and meet new people. While apartments have privacy and space, dorms have a social aspect that’s essential to a traditional college freshmen experience.