By JESSICA BAREFOOT
At the start of the school year, West Village, also known as the Belmont apartments, became home to 68 students to whom on-campus housing was denied due to an increased demand for space.
The use of West Village, which is home mainly to sophomores, also comes about as a result of a new refusal to place freshmen in tripled rooms.
According to Director of Residence Life Christine Porter, part of the difficulty that the Office of Residence Life faces is that the number of first year students choosing to enroll at Mary Washington is only speculative until after housing selection occurs for current students.
“We don’t often get to decide how many freshmen there are going to be,” Porter said.
The students at West Village not only get to enjoy state of the art apartments equipped with fireplaces and individual washer and dryer sets, but also access to a swimming pool, a tennis court, a 24-hour fitness facility and a sauna.
Junior Alex LaBranche, who is living in West Village this semester, is pleased with his living situation.
“In my opinion, it’s better than the UMW Apartments,” LaBranche said. “I was a lot happier with that than being placed in a triple or quad on campus”.
Although Mary Washington offers a shuttle bus service running regularly to campus from West Village, some students find that having their own means of transportation makes it easier.
One obstacle that West Village commuters faced during the first weeks of the semester was the lack of parking available to them on campus. Having been given residential parking stickers, many found it difficult to find parking anywhere on campus, making it hard to get to class on time.
“There’s nowhere to park,” LaBranche said.
Once they realized the difficulty students were having, campus police issued West Village drivers special commuter passes, which grant them access to both residential and commuter parking.
“The commuter pass is a lot better,” sophomore Doug Schultz, a resident of West Village, said.
He also views his experience there optimistically.
“I was pretty mad,” Schultz said, upon first hearing he was to be housed off-campus.
However, as time progressed, Schultz changed his mind about his new residence.
“The positives are definitely outweighing the negatives,” he said. “I’m paying the same price for a pretty nice apartment”.
One of the main problems of West Village seems to be its distance away from campus.
“It’s a little tougher,” Patrick Mahoney, sophomore and West Village resident, said.
Mahoney lived in Alvey last year. He now chooses to use a bike as a means of transportation to and from his apartment.
“It’s definitely a lot more trouble than last year,” he said.
Although some students have been moved back to campus already, Porter said that the majority will remain in West Village through December. As for next year, the housing situation remains unknown.
“We were thinking, what happens if Eagle Village doesn’t open?” Porter said.
She said that even though the new development is likely to be completed in time for fall 2010, the college has the option of utilizing West Village again next year if new housing is not ready in Eagle Village.