The administration will be closing the Strath Haven apartments and one of the Worth Lodges in the 2017-18 academic year in order to repair facilities. At the same time, the college will be adding more than one hundred beds to the on-campus housing inventory with the addition of the New PPR apartments.
Catrìona Anderson ’20 had hoped to live in the Strath Haven apartments for the 2017-18 academic year. When she found out the college would be closing the condominium to student housing next year, she was disappointed she had to change her plans.
“I would have really liked to live in Strath Haven because it was a way to get off the meal plan, and to save a lot of money that way without also having to arrange my own housing off campus,” said Anderson, who will be living in the Barn instead.
Anderson emailed administration in February to inquire about living in Strath Haven. She learned then that the apartments would be closed to students, but she felt it was unfair that the administration did not make this information publicly available until late in the process.
“You had to email them and ask, rather than it just being posted on the website or available somehow publicly so people would know rather than finding out at the last minute. If they knew it that far ahead of time, why didn’t they announce it and make it so students would know?” she said.
Assistant director of residential communities Isaiah Thomas could not be reached for comment.
Anderson listed a lower cost of living as one of the appeals of off-campus housing. She believed that the college should give stipends to students who want to live off-campus, in order to encourage students to make their own housing arrangements and thereby reduce crowding in dorms.
“I personally don’t understand why the college doesn’t give [students] a stipend if they choose to live off-campus, why they can’t get that money as a stipend and use it to fund their own housing, so students have more options. There’s so much pressure on housing with the rise in enrollment,” she said.
Manager of the Strath Haven Condominium Association Terri May affirmed that the college’s decision to close the apartments to student housing does not impact the association or the business of the condominium, as the college owns those units.
“The association has no involvement with the units the college uses for housing. The college owns those units, and their decision to not use them for housing will not impact the association in anyway. [It’s] very similar to when any owner owns a unit and has it unoccupied,” she wrote.
According to Vice President for Finance and Administration Greg Brown, the opening of New PPR will occur in conjunction with repairs to Strath Haven and the Lodges.
“The additional new housing units will provide us with the opportunity to reduce crowding in some of our other residence halls, make necessary repairs to some facilities including Strath Haven and the Lodges, and determine our long-term strategies for maintaining our housing stock,” Brown said.
He expected that the new apartments would offer an apartment-like experience to those students who wanted to live in Strath Haven or the Lodges, but with upgraded facilities. He listed heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems among the facilities that need improvement in the Strath Haven units.
“Many of the Strath Haven units are ‘efficiencies’ without adequate kitchen facilities. The new PPR Apartments will be a significant improvement for those students interested in an apartment-like experience,” Brown said.
The New PPR apartments will have 120 beds and will offer suite-style arrangements. New PRR will consist largely of seniors, whereas Strath Haven and the Lodges were more open to underclassmen. According to Brown, the facility will also be one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings on campus, using both geothermal energy and solar power. Students will be expected to participate in “green” initiatives such as composting.
“We are looking forward to welcoming our first residents to the PPR apartments for next semester. It should be a wonderful enhancement to the student experience at Swarthmore,” Brown said.
While Strath Haven and a portion of the Lodges will go offline in the coming academic year, many students will have the opportunity to live in the New PPR building as the college makes improvements to the Strath Haven and Worth facilities.