By Jasmine Williams
When students apply to college and indicate their interest in residency, the idea of spending the year on campus with other students is obvious. Selecting residency at Mercy College, however, is complicated decision.
Prospective students admitted to Mercy have multiple options when it comes to residency. Students can either choose to live on campus in Mercy’s sole Residence Hall or off-campus in four different local hotels.
The addition of hotels to the college’s list of residency options began during the 2010-2011 school year, when the number of prospective students who showed an interest in residency surpassed the number of beds within Mercy’s Residence Hall. Not having ample space for the additional students, the college formed contracts with three local hotels, The Doubletree, The Marriott and the Courtyard Marriott.
“We have enough space for each resident through the assistance of the hotels,” explained Patricia Christiano, Deputy Director of PACT. “If we were to limit residency to 300 students, we’d only be able to use the Residence Hall. We have over 700 students in some form of housing. We wouldn’t be able to help a lot of students who want to be on campus or who wouldn’t be able to come here unless they received some form of housing.”
Since the 2010-2011 school year, another hotel was added in order to meet the number of students who indicated housing would be needed.
The Renaissance Hotel, a member of the Marriott family in West Harrison, was added for the 2011-2012 school year, bringing the total to four hotels.
However, whereas the first three hotels were no more than 5 miles and 10 minutes away from the Dobbs Ferry Campus, the Renaissance is 13.4 miles and 20 minutes away. Thus, students must set their schedules accordingly to assure they make the correct shuttle in order to arrive to class on time.
Being reliant on the shuttles and not having a car is a tough situation to be in for students, let alone athletes who were placed in off campus housing.
“As an athlete, being off campus is difficult because I have to use the shuttle,” said Kassandra Phillips, a member of Mercy’s women’s volleyball team. “When the shuttle isn’t an option, I have to ask people for rides. That’s even more difficult because everyone’s schedule doesn’t revolve around mine.”
In addition to waiting on the shuttle, athletes who live off campus are forced to be distant from their teammates and, like other students, feel they are missing out on a true residential college experience.
“I feel like being in the hotel does take away from the college experience because you’re not on campus,” said Venesha Hunter, a sophomore on Mercy’s women’s basketball team. “You have hotel amenities like a bigger bed and your own shower, but at the cost of being away from everything and everyone else.”
In an attempt to minimize the lack of residential experience students who live off campus are having, there has been talk of finally adding an additional dorm.
“The college is currently looking to put together a plan to move forward with the Residential Hall,” confirmed Joseph Schaefer, Chief Operating Officer. “There’s an approval process through the municipalities, which is the village of Dobbs Ferry, and we have not yet submitted an application, but we would like to do so in the future.”
As for now and what may be the next several years, some 400 students will be living off campus in hotels rather than on campus.
“Giving up proximity to campus isn’t for everyone,” said a sympathetic Christiano. “But we’re doing our best to change that.”
The need for oncampus housing continues to grow at Mercy. Photo by Kristina Summerville