The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Dorm residents say they are overcharged and underserved

 Dorm residents say they are overcharged and underserved
Photo by Molly Pruett, The Daily Campus
Dorm residents say they are overcharged and underserved

Dorm residents say they are overcharged and underserved (Photo by Molly Pruett, The Daily Campus)

Chrissy Terrell is counting down the days until she can move out of her dorm room and into her new apartment.

“I want my own damn room and kitchen,” said Terrell, an SMU freshman. “I want to be able to watch television in a living room, not have to wait for a shower and be able to cook dinner. I feel like I am stuck in my dorm room that is like the size of a shoebox, and I have no other place to hang out other than my friends’ dorm rooms.”

Terrell is not alone.

Many SMU students say they pay more to live on campus and receive fewer amenities than students living off campus.

The average cost for two students to live in a dorm room together at SMU in 2006-2007 is $1,253 per month, but this amount does not include the mandatory meal plan or a parking permit.

Many students said they get less in return while living on campus. For example, the average size of a typical dorm room housing two students is less than 200 square feet.

In a residence hall, students get a desk, a dresser and a bed-some built-in depending on the building.

By contrast, the Apartment Listing Network says the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment within a three-mile radius of SMU is $972, or $486 per person. The average area of a two-bedroom apartment is 1,042 square feet, or five times the living space.

ALN is a trade group that provides detailed statistics to apartment brokers and locators around the country and has been collecting data on Dallas area apartments for the past 15 years.

The Carlyle Apartments, located on East University, offers students two-bedroom, two-bathroom (approximately 1,164 sq. ft) apartments for $1,093 a month, or about $547 a person. In addition, The Carlyle offers a swimming pool and workout facility.

Students can also find less expensive housing than the residence halls at The Phoenix Midtown, located at 5555 E. Mockingbird Ln.

The Phoenix offers a variety of floor plans. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom at 1,222 sq. ft. is about $1,512 a month. This is around $756 a person. For this amount, residents have access to a business center and swimming pool.

First-year student Christopher Crawford wishes he had more room in his dorm.

“The beds, desks and drawers are all built into the wall. We can’t move any furniture, and we don’t have enough room to have a futon,” said Crawford. “Since we only have one outlet and limited space, our refrigerator is basically in the middle of the room.”

Students can find apartments with their own bedroom and bathroom as well as a full kitchen and living room for less than what they pay to live in the dorms.

Sophomore Kelsey Wood, who now lives off campus, said it was a hassle to live in a dorm. “You think that as much money as you pay, you would get more of the conveniences of home like a sink in the dorm room, more space and more study rooms,” said Wood. “I wanted a homier environment, not just a place to sleep at night.”

While all residence halls include electricity and high-speed Internet, not all include cable television, an amenity students can get in any apartment.

According to officials from TXU Energy and Comcast Cable, the average combined cost of electricity and cable is $160 per month.

Nonetheless, many students who live off campus say they still save money and have access to more amenities without having to leave their buildings.

Some students say SMU maintenance staffers could do a better job.

“They were really unreliable. I had to make several calls to get someone to look at the air conditioning problem,” said Lauren Sindelar, a senior who now lives off campus. “When maintenance finally came and said the problem was fixed, it really wasn’t fixed.”

Hallenbeck said his staff does a good job. “If something breaks, we generally try to fix the problem quickly,” he said.

That has not been the experience of first-year student Ally Ramser, who lives in a dorm. Ramser said she complains to maintenance about her air conditioning unit on a daily basis. “It doesn’t work very well, and when it does it’s really loud,” said Ramser. “It’s like my walls are talking to me.”

Many students said their dorm rooms feel confining.

Kathleen Sheehan, a first-year student, sometimes decides to go out at night so she can just get out of her dorm room. “Many of us go out at night because there is nothing to do in our cubicle,” said Sheehan. “It’s like we eat, sleep and socialize all in the same room, and it gets old after awhile.”

The Daily Campus reported in February that SMU President R. Gerald Turner and other top officials plan to require sophomores to live on campus. The SMU Board of Trustees has already approved a plan to have sophomores live on campus when housing becomes available. The plan is expected to take effect in the next five to six years.

SMU officials say that requiring students to live on campus has many advantages. According to Hallenbeck, “We want to create an atmosphere where students are more connected to each other and the campus. Students [who live on campus] are more likely to come to campus events and tend to perform better academically.”

However, many students say that SMU first must provide better housing at a lower cost.

“The school would definitely have to make the dorm rooms much bigger and nicer,” said Ramser. “I would also want a sink in my room and more room to hang out.”

Hallenbeck said SMU plans to address student concerns regarding on-campus housing so the dorms will be a place that students want to live. But he warns there will be a price. “It won’t come inexpensively,” he said.

Blair Benjamin, a senior, does not agree that sophomores should be required to live in dorms. “It’s definitely a turnoff,” said Benjamin. “Students want their independence and shouldn’t have to feel obligated to live in a dorm. Plus, you don’t get to experience Dallas because you’re still living on campus.”


– Austin Kilgore contributed to this report.

Dorm residents say they are overcharged and underserved (Photo by Molly Pruett, The Daily Campus)

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