As academic year comes to a close, Pitt students reflect on living in Carlow University dorms


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

Frances Warde Hall on Carlow University’s campus.

By Kelly McPoyle, For The Pitt News

When Raafae Rizvi, a first-year bioengineering major, moved into Frances Warde Hall at Carlow University in August, he experienced separation from the school he applied to. 

“It’s a very isolating feeling because all of my friends walk over to Towers or The Eatery after class and I’m like, ‘Alright guys, I’ll see you,’ and then I have to catch a bus back to my dorm,” Rizvi said.

Rizvi is one of about 130 Pitt first-years who lived in Frances Warde Hall and Dougherty Hall at Carlow University this academic year due to record enrollment levels and housing demand. Though the Panther Central website says students living in Carlow’s dorms will have “a complete Panther student experience including Pitt Resident Advisors and Pitt student life activities,” students like Rizvi said they’ve experienced challenges unlike other on-campus first-years.

The Carlow dorms have laundry on each floor, air conditioning, communal bathrooms, Wifi, microwaves, refrigerators and 24/7 security. There are Pitt students on floors one and two of Frances Warde Hall and floors nine and 10 in Dougherty Hall. On Pitt’s website, the dorms are listed as “on-campus housing.” 

Rizvi said he has to make more of an effort to make friends on campus because of his living situation.

“My friends made it a point to stay on campus when they got there, like going to the library after class,” Rizvi said. “Also, joining clubs and stuff was a more meaningful experience, than I’d say, freshman orientation week.”

University spokesperson Nick France said Pitt staffed the dorm rooms with resident assistants, who coordinated “student support and engagement.” He also said RAs and area coordinators hosted drop-in meetings for additional engagement opportunities. 

Collaborative programming between Pitt and Carlow RA was encouraged and opportunities for that were provided,” France said. “Lastly, Pitt Residence Life staff met weekly with Carlow Residence Life staff to address any concerns and provide updates on facility issues.”

France said Pitt has not finalized housing plans for the 2023-24 school year, but it’s possible that Pitt will use Carlow dorms again. He added that Pitt has reconfigured Forbes Hall to accommodate an additional 28 first-year students for next year.

Alayna Jiya, a first-year biochemistry major, said her RA planned good events in Dougherty Hall. However, while Jiya is friendly with the Pitt students in her dorm, she said that most of her friends are from her classes. 

“I think we all just did what we were going to do if we lived on campus,” Jiya said. “We went to the events that we wanted to and our RAs did a good job of helping us and bringing us to places, but I don’t recall Pitt ever reaching out to us specifically.”

Jiya added that the commute back and forth from Carlow to Pitt’s campus often hinders her plans. Jiya remembered when she learned that she was placed in Dougherty in summer 2022, she thought she’d accidentally applied to the wrong school.

“It took me a while to meet people and be able to hang out on campus because it was more of a commitment,” Jiya said. “I had to plan for it.” 

Mya Greenfield, a first-year neuroscience major, also said since a lot of Pitt students weren’t happy to be living at Carlow, they “weren’t as inclined to get to know each other.”

“Like, our floor doesn’t really know each other that well,” Greenfield said. “If I was in Towers, for example, my whole floor would probably know each other, at least.” 

Greenfield also said the religious statues and references to Catholicism on Carlow’s campus sometimes make her feel uneasy. Carlow is a historically Catholic college, which is “rooted in the traditions of the Catholic faith and the vision and values of our founders, the Sisters of Mercy.” 

“I personally am an atheist and I’m not super offended by any of it but at times I don’t feel completely comfortable,” Greenfield said. 

Though Rizvi understands that some students might feel uncomfortable with Carlow’s religious affiliation, it doesn’t make him feel uncomfortable.

“They don’t really force any of it onto anybody,” Rizvi said. “No one has done anything that’s made me feel uncomfortable and in that respect, Carlow has done a good job of not particularly pushing the faith onto anybody from Pitt.”

Rizi said even though living in Carlow has its difficulties, it’s manageable if students have the right perspective.

“It’s not a terrible dorm,” Rizvi said. “I feel like as long as people come into college with the mindset of having your own experiences and opportunities, I think a lot of people would be more accepting of being in this sort of position.”