Differences in housing between UNL and downtown Lincoln

Graphics, video and story by Julia Jackson, NewsNetNebraska

As 18-year-old freshmen come to college, they expect a few things. A solid education, a fun, new social environment to explore and a housing experience that differs from the one they received back home. As a university, those expectations are usually met with ease, but that doesn’t mean some mom-and-dad rules don’t still apply. When it comes to campus housing, what are the benefits? Where does off-campus housing interfere, and how frequently are students opting to live out instead of on?

For senior Alex Mallory, the move from campus housing to downtown living was simple. “Living on campus was a lot more restrictive. Off-campus, I’m at liberty to do what I want, when I want.” Mallory said. “I felt more confined to rules and procedures.”

UNL housing regulations

As outlined by the university,
“All unmarried students who are enrolled for seven or more credit hours, and who are under the age of 19 prior to the first day of the fall semester of the current academic year, are required to reside in on-campus housing. This policy is in effect for the entire academic year.”
Exceptions can be made for some students, but the majority of UNL’s first-year students opt to live in some kind of campus dorm. Although there are freedoms that come with living away from home, like going to bed whenever you want and not having to keep a clean room, UNL still implements some rules and regulations.

Some of the rules and procedures Mallory referenced include a quiet hours policy, guests policy and roommate policies, which are more like contracts that are self-written by the resident and his or her roommates regarding living behavior.
As several UNL students have voiced, one of the biggest issues with living on campus is the alcohol ban. It’s the first policy that comes up on UNL’s policies and procedures page, and its use by college kids has been the subject for a recent change in Nebraska law. So, it makes sense that it’s a big pull for students to leave campus housing in order to freely partake in its consumption.

After Mallory finished his freshman year at UNL, he decided to move off campus into a downtown apartment complex, Parkhaus. For him, the leniency of off-campus living was attractive. “Living off campus was really beneficial in terms of the social atmosphere it provided,” Mallory said. “I was able to indulge in certain things that would have otherwise been prohibited had I been on-campus.”
And that, essentially, is the bingo card for students who move away from on-campus housing – the lack of prohibitions. While Mallory enjoyed this aspect of off-campus living, there were other areas that he missed while living on campus. “I only lived on campus my freshman year, so that could’ve been why it felt so stringent at the time. At Parkhaus, some of the other tenants were incredibly inconsiderate,” Mallory said. “Not that my room was perfect, but [Parkhaus] was chaotic.”

In the last four years in downtown Lincoln, five separate housing facilities not affiliated with the university have been built within walking distance. Parkhaus, Latitude, 50/50, Prime Place Apartments and Canopy Lofts have all been erected and within a mile of the university; essentially, walking distance. While UNL Associate Director of Residence Life, Keith Zaborowski says there hasn’t been any significant deterring of campus living due to these implementations, the population of off-campus housing residences continues to grow in Lincoln.

Associate Director of Residence Life, Keith Zaborowski

College students are targets

Almost all of the recently-built apartments have heavily targeted students as their main demographic of residents. Prime Place, located in the North Bottoms neighborhood on Y Street, went around to each Greek house on campus promoting their soon-to-be-available residences last year. 50/50 Apartments, adjacent to a university-approved parking garage seemingly blend in with the rest of campus housing, despite their brand new look.

Each apartment has their own unique amenities that either separate it from other similar off-campus housing residences or, at least, the ones available on campus.

By 2016, 8N Lofts, another downtown, student-targeted residence will have finished construction and more than likely filled up a significant number of vacancies by UNL students. This will be the sixth downtown complex built within walking distance to the university in four years. Despite the amenities and securities provided by UNL housing, there’s no doubt that a market for off-campus living is available to whichever company sees fit to build nearby.

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