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Off-campus housing fair returns after seven-year hiatus

By Michael Kurtz
On March 27, 2012

  • Portion size and moderation are important on Thanksgiving to avoid overeating. Benimoto/Flickr

For non-freshmen at Marist, housing has always proved to be an issue. Collecting a group of friends that all get along and have high enough priority points to get into their housing complex of choice is no easy feat. Now, with the influx of students over the past few years consistently exceeding the capacity of current housing options on campus, finding on-campus housing is even more difficult.

Off-campus housing seems to be the most reasonable alternative apart from, maybe, living at home and commuting to classes every day. The housing office helps students prepare to leave campus by posting off-campus listings both online and in the rotunda. But there is only so much a piece of paper or Word document can do for a group of students who are looking for a home.

To aid with this, an off-campus housing fair was held on Wednesday, March 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Cabaret. It provided students with face-to-face interactions with landlords, storage and moving companies and the New York State and local fire departments to get information on rentals, discounted services and safety procedures. The event was free with refreshments and raffle opportunities.

Available to students were various informational packets about fraud, safety, transportation, entertainment and a roommate search sign-up. When students entered the fair, they received a free raffle ticket to win a $50 Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card or a basket of assorted home goods which included kitchenware and food items.

Students in attendance generally gave the fair a good review, though some students noted the organization of the event as a bit sloppy and confusing at times. Other students had major gripes about missing and late vendors.

"You say you're coming at 11, you show up at 11," one senior said.

Her friends agreed, saying they had classes and meetings to go to but could not wait for the landlords to arrive.

Organizers of the fair were also disappointed in the lack of landlords. Those who came, however, were prepared with fliers, discount cards, photographs, PowerPoint presentations and small novelty items like key-chains and candy.

Senior Helen Ramirez had certain things in mind for her new home during her time as a 'super senior.'

"Affordability, utilities, comfort, cleanliness... Safety is really important," Ramirez said. "The first thing my mom said was it needed to be good with fire safety, especially after what happened. You need to have an exit plan, too."

Ramirez and her friends left the fair with some good leads on a new place.

If the fair is so useful, why haven't students heard of the off-campus housing fair in the past?

"It is new - because of the large amount of students that will have to move off campus next year," said Meaghan Neary, a resident assistant in Upper Fulton.

Sarah English, Director of Housing and Residential Life, backs that statement up. English said that for the past five years, there was no need for the fair.

Before the addition of the Fulton townhouses and Residence Inn partnership, the establishment of the fair was an annual occurrence for twelve years. Will it be around next year?

"Definitely," said Sharon Smith, faculty assistant in the housing office. "It will happen for probably two, three or four years or more."

English added that even if the housing problem is solved relatively soon, it's "probably not a bad idea to offer the fair anyway," because students move off campus not only because there isn't room, but because of personal preference.

Senior Benjamin Pozar discussed his motivation for moving off campus.

"My housemates were going off campus whom I've lived with since sophomore year," he said. "It was supposed to be a bit cheaper, and I could get away from the noisy neighbors."

It seemed like a simple choice for Pozar at the time, but finding accommodations proved hard for a group of five students.

"There weren't a lot of options for a group that size or bigger," Pozar said.

At the fair, where roughly 10-15 landlords were present, the sizes of rentable space ranged from single rooms to large homes. Apart from private properties, there were also a number of apartment complex managers showing off their communities.

Lauren Constable from Hyde Park Greens noted she rents apartments in her complex to many Marist and Culinary Institute of America students. She finds the culture in the complex to be fun.

Senior Madelyn Muldoon, who lives off campus with other students, thinks the fair is a great idea.

"The fair is probably a great resource to meet your future landlords," she said. "You basically have to work together for the next year living in their house." Muldoon said her housemates had to call the fire department twice in the fall, reporting "weird smells." They found that their furnace had not been serviced since 2007.

"I think it is super important that students know what they are jumping into," Muldoon said. The housing department agrees.

English can recall a number of students coming into her office across the years complaining about problems with their landlord or the conditions of the house.

"I want people to feel like they can come in for help if they need to," English said. "While we're the on campus housing department, student affairs is here for everyone."

Overall, English said students and vendors attending the event reported they "appreciated" the session.

"They felt like it was a lot of good connecting," English said. She encourages students to work with their landlords on pricing and other details. "I tell the landlords, 'make these places affordable and reasonable.' Some students have the money; some students don't. The landlords want to work with the students."

If you're interested in off-campus housing but missed the fair, feel free to stop by the housing office in the rotunda, room 387, down the admissions hallway. Or, email at

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