Making the move off campus

By Mollie Durkin

Upperclassmen can be hesitant to venture off-campus — away from their former stomping grounds… Upperclassmen can be hesitant to venture off-campus — away from their former stomping grounds — after living in Pitt’s dorms.

There is more to Oakland than the Cathedral, Towers and Sutherland Hall, though. Oakland isn’t just a college neighborhood, it is an area with a distinct history and culture, where one can experience authentic Indian food and visit the old homes of Andy Warhol and neighborhood favorite Mr. Rogers.

Once students decide to venture off campus, though, safety concerns come to mind.

Pitt offers students safety amenities like late-night shuttles and SafeRider, but when living off-campus, students must learn to protect themselves as the crowds of their peers begin to disperse.

Aside from altered safety parameters, those who live off-campus notice many other differences from their prior on-campus housing situations.  These  include increased freedom and responsibility, a longer journey to campus and a different neighborhood demographics.

Sophomore Chase Welman, 19, said that after living in Tower A last year, he is adjusting well to his off-campus home on Dawson Street. He lives with three roommates, who are also his fraternity brothers.

“[The move was] nice because of the new freedom. And I like to enjoy my freedoms,” he said with a laugh.

Welman came to Pitt from Kansas City, Mo., and he said the 16-hour drive made this year’s move-in comparable to last year’s.

“This year I could bring my king-size bed. It was a struggle, though, because of the low ceiling [in the new house],” he said. But bringing in the bed was worth the struggle.

Many houses in South Oakland are antiquated, but Welman said his landlord “fixed it up.”

“He added tile, and I like our house. The old and new are mixed in, which makes it unique,” he said. “But the walls are thin, which is annoying.”

According to Welman, the pros outweigh the cons in his living situation.

“Not having an RA is a plus, and I like having my own schedule. And there’s not a constant community of loud people I don’t know right outside my door,” he said. “It’s also nice to walk around the house in my boxers.”

Welman said the only drawback is his 12-minute walk to campus, but he plans to invest in a bike shortly.

Sophomore Quinton Armitage, 19, chose a different housing path than Welman. After living in Tower B last year, he decided to move to Centre Plaza Apartments, a University-owned off-campus apartment complex.

Armitage said he enjoys the company of his two roommates, having a kitchen and having his own bedroom — although he is less than excited about the walk to campus.

“The walk is about 20 minutes,” he said. “It’s downhill to campus but uphill to my apartment.”

He also doesn’t enjoy signing his friends and girlfriend in and out at the security desk.

“I don’t believe [having the guard] is necessary, but I can see how it would make someone else here feel safer,” Armitage said. “And it’s less formal than Towers. As the year goes on, I think it will be a non-issue.”

He said he is pleased with the condition of the apartment, and said it is well kept, clean and in good condition.

“The carpets are clean, which is a thing that someone like me would notice,” he said.

Armitage said he had a “totally positive” experience so far but hopes the 71A bus will arrive out front consistently in the snowy months.