‘Not on campus, on another campus’: About 130 Pitt first-years to live in Carlow University dorms this academic year


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

Frances Warde Hall on Carlow University’s campus.

By Alexandra Ross, Senior Staff Writer

Noah Stephenson has a few complaints about his on-campus housing this year — namely that it isn’t on Pitt’s campus at all. 

“They said it was on-campus housing, and it’s not on campus, it’s on another campus,” Stephenson said. 

Stephenson, a first-year computer science major, is one of about 130 first-year Pitt students who will live in Carlow University’s Frances Warde and Dougherty Halls during the 2022-23 academic year due to record enrollment levels and housing demand, according to a July news release from the University.

Pitt students will occupy two full floors in each building, living in double or triple rooms. According to the Panther Central website, the University chose to partner with Carlow based on “the established community partnership between the two universities, proximity to Pitt’s campus and resident amenities.”

Frances Warde and Dougherty Halls are located on the edge of Carlow’s campus near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Halket Street. A walk from the Carlow dorms to the Cathedral of Learning takes about 15 minutes — for reference, a walk to the Cathedral from Sutherland Hall takes about 12-15 minutes. 

Claire Ponciano, a first-year neuroscience major who will live in the Carlow dorms this year, said she isn’t bothered by the longer walk to campus. 

“If anything, I really appreciate the fact that I’m walking because I already barely get any exercise, so the walking is fine with me and it kind of gives me time to explore the city,” Ponciano said. 

Ponciano also said she felt relieved to receive any housing assignment at all, because she turned in her housing application after the first deadline. 

“I felt relieved because I was guaranteed housing and I was pretty unsure about that when I was filling [the application] out, and it was kind of stressful … so I was happy either way that I was assigned, like, an actual place to live in,” Ponciano said.

Ponciano clarified that despite missing the housing deadline, Panther Central encouraged her to still apply for guaranteed first-year housing. She said Panther Central told her over the phone that her assignment in Carlow was guaranteed housing, not non-guaranteed. 

According to a University spokesperson, housing assignments are determined based on multiple factors, including a student’s date of acceptance, when they submitted the housing application and the programs in which they are enrolled. Pitt and Carlow formed a housing partnership between last winter break and March, though neither Stephenson nor Ponciano said they recalled the Carlow dorms appearing as an option in their housing forms. 

Carlow student Emilee Matz started a petition in March 2022 to protest the housing partnership between Pitt and Carlow, calling the presence of Pitt students on Carlow’s campus “a threat to our education … [and] to the historical value of our sacred campus.”

Matz later updated the petition stating that she had met with Carlow University administration and learned that approximately 178 of Carlow’s 441 on-campus beds would go unfilled this upcoming academic year, and the partnership with Pitt allowed Carlow to regain lost revenue from that on-campus housing. 

Stephenson said while living in other dorms further from the center of campus — such as Sutherland Hall — has certain benefits, he doesn’t see those same advantages in Frances Warde or Dougherty Hall. 

“It just seems like there’s not really any upside to it,” Stephenson said. “I’ve heard from people who live in Sutherland that the dorms are nice there, there’s a dining hall there. So that’s farther away, but at least there’s some upside, but there’s no real upside for the Carlow dorms.”

According to Stephenson, another of his concerns involved potential social isolation from other first-year students, because of the distance and relatively low number of students in the dorms. 

“It seems like it’s a little socially isolated,” Stephenson said. “There’s only 130 people living there, and kind of far away … so we’re kind of just isolated because it’s just like four floors of students.”

Ponciano said the presence of other Pitt students, including fellow first-years and resident assistants, would help her feel more connected to Pitt while in a Carlow dorm. 

“I don’t think that living in a Carlow dorm is going to significantly impact that experience, because I’m also sharing it with you know, the RAs and like, other Pitt students who were assigned there,” Ponciano said. “I’m just really looking forward to kind of getting to know everybody and kind of exploring the City and what it has to offer.”

The University spokesperson said Pitt is dedicated to ensuring students residing in Carlow residence halls have the full Pitt experience. 

“Frances Warde and Dougherty halls will have floors dedicated to Pitt students with Pitt Resident Assistants and Pitt student life activities,” the spokesperson said. “Additionally, students residing at Carlow will have all of the same amenities and experiences of those residing in traditional on-campus housing including: 24/7 security, onsite laundry, a fitness facility, air conditioning and microwave-fridge units.”

Pitt previously leased out hotel rooms during the 2020-2021 academic year to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus, and returned to the Residence Inn on Bigelow Boulevard during the 2021-2022 academic year to manage a “surge in enrollment,” according to the University Times. The University later bought the hotel in November 2021 and began renovations there this summer, according to the Pitt spokesperson, who said students will occupy part of the building this fall. 

“While the building won’t be fully occupied, we currently have approximately 90 units reserved,” the spokesperson said. “Not all units will be occupied to allow renovations to occur throughout the building with less disruption.” 

According to Panther Central, each double and triple room in the Carlow dorms will come equipped with a microwave, air conditioning, a refrigerator, twin-size beds, desks and dressers. Bathrooms in each residence hall are communal. Students can access wireless internet, cable television and on-site fitness and laundry facilities at no additional cost, and can receive mail in student mailboxes located in Carlow’s Grace Library, next door to the dorms. Pitt students are required to have a Pitt meal plan, which will only apply to Pitt dining services — not Carlow’s. 

Pitt students staying in Carlow’s dorms will be billed for the housing through their student account at Pitt, just like students in regular on-campus housing, according to Panther Central. The per-semester housing rates Panther Central lists for Pitt students living in Frances Warde and Dougherty Halls — $3,357 for a double and $3,692 for a triple — are identical to the rates listed for Carlow students on the university’s website

Stephenson said while he was initially more upset about living in a Carlow dorm, he is now getting used to the idea. 

“I was a little upset, but it’s really not too big of a deal to me at this point,” Stephenson said. “I kind of am already getting, like, I’m over it, like it’s whatever.”