By Andrea Davis
Indiana, Pa. -- Since the new suites began replacing the old dorms at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2006, students have been debating whether the higher rents are worth the price. Paula J. Wagner, a junior criminology major, lived in a suite last year. They're not worth it, she concluded.
For other suites residents, however, cost is not an issue
"Because of how my financial aid works, it's actually cheaper for me to live in the suites rather than off-campus," said Ashley N. Testa, a junior English major living in the suites, in a fall 2008 interview. "I am not paying out-of-pocket money for rent."
For such residents, the new suite buildings include many features that the traditional residence halls do not offer -- individual bathrooms, wireless Internet connections, microwaves and refrigerators in each suite, individually controlled air conditioning and heating, and laundry and trash disposal on each floor.
And the suites were built with security in mind, said Christie Ritchey, a student worker in the IUP Office of Housing and Residence Life."Not only do you need your I-Card to get into the rooms, but you need to swipe your I-Card through to get into each hallway as well," said Ritchie. "That's something the traditional halls don't have."
Leah S. Weiland, another OHRL student employee, said the suites are in high demand.
"We get calls from prospective students and their parents saying that they want to come to IUP because of the suites," Weiland said. "Some people who do not sign up in time for a suite will sometimes tell us that they won't come to IUP unless they can get into one."
Wagner is not persuaded.
"The suites are really nice," Wagner said. "But the walls are really thin. And you can hear every conversation the people next to you are having."
Testa described a different sort of interaction problem: Residents tend to avoid communicating with neighbors and even roommates, she said.
Andrea Davis, a junior majoring in journalism, is from Heilwood, Pa.