Nearly Complete Paradise Road Apartments Raise Concerns About Tradition

Emily Kowalik '18Assistant Copy Editor

Campus is abuzz with questions regarding the new Paradise Road apartment complex, which is nearing completion and will be ready for student occupancy in the fall semester of 2016.

Located at the end of Paradise Road, the apartments are equipped with one-floor units that each have four single bedrooms, two baths, a living room and a kitchen. Other amenities include more student control over the heating and cooling systems, 35 new parking spaces and handicapable accessibility.

Residence Life Director Rebecca Shaw said the apartments are “mostly geared toward seniors,” though some juniors may get the opportunity to live there. Shaw also said that “because of housing projections at this point in time, we haven’t designated any [of the apartments] for [Ada Comstock Scholars],” but Residence Life would “certainly be willing to have conversations” about this topic.

The project, which cost around $12.5 million to complete, began because “apartment-style living is very popular for students” and because “the Friedmans were in a poor condition,” Shaw said.

Despite the fact that these apartments allow for a more independent style of living, Shaw feels students will still be connected to regular campus life because of the location of the apartments and their division into five separate buildings, which allows for “a neighborhood kind of feel.”

Shaw also added that the occupants, who would be “mostly, if not all, seniors,” would likely already be integrated into campus life and therefore not feel a detachment from campus despite their more independent housing style.

In addition, Shaw feels that this housing option will help transition students from college life into the “real world.” She emphasized that “developmentally, it’s good to have that step” and that students will gain invaluable experience from being in charge of their own housekeeping and cooking.

The value of more independent living options is not lost with Smith students.

“It would allow me to have more control over my own space,” said Sarah Kilfoyle ’18, who expressed interest in being in charge of her own cooking and cleaning.   

Emily Mazza ’18 sees apartment-style living as a good way to transition into post-college life because “it’s the next step up to having your own place.”

Students considering the Paradise Road apartment option, however, must keep in mind that independent living comes at a price.

Stephanie Capsuto ’18, who lives in Tyler House, expressed the advantages of living in a traditional house, especially those with dining halls.

“It’s just really convenient. I don’t change for brunch. I don’t have to go outside [to eat],” said Capsuto.

With all the changes on campus, such as the renovation of Neilson Library, many wonder whether the atmosphere of the campus will change. Students expressed some concern that Smith is moving away from its unique housing system.

Shaw concurs with the views of many students. “Students enjoy the [current] house system … It’s a core part of the student experience,” she said.

Student concerns have arisen regarding whether this new housing option is being created at the cost of the traditional housing atmosphere on campus. Many students mentioned that the house they live in is part of the way they describe themselves as students, just as they would mention their class year or their major. Students feel the college’s system of living in houses provides a unique sense of a family environment.

Kilfoyle said that living in a house “gives you a good home base to go back to, especially as a first-year. What I think the house system does very well is [introduce you to] people from different departments and backgrounds.”

Shaw agrees that living in a house on campus is an integral part of the Smith students’ lives and that the relationships that one builds living in one of Smith’s houses are lasting.

“One of the most astonishing and wonderful things about Smith is how close the connections are [to one’s house], even for alumnae. [Whether] you graduated this year or 20, 30 or 40 years ago, you are still close,” Shaw said.

Ultimately, while students are supportive of and interested in independent housing options, most hope that it will not detract from Smith’s unique, close-knit housing environment.