Monday, April 2, 2018

The Daily Orange 'Substandard' Exposé

I wrote an exposé in The Daily Orange in March 2007 on the poor state of an off-campus dormitory that Syracuse University had started using for incoming freshmen. The building then underwent significant, unplanned renovated the summer before the next school year. I did a follow-up on the renovations with the current students in August 2007. 

The Daily Orange

The Daily Orange (March 23, 2007)

When freshman Dave Norton received his housing assignment, he looked at it with disbelief.

He had been assigned to live in the International Living Center, a residence hall that he had no idea even existed. He looked the building up on the Internet and found it to be basically off-campus. It was not what he expected for his first year at Syracuse University.

‘When I found out,’ he said, ‘I was shocked, to say the least.’

Tucked away amidst the numerous off-campus houses of SU, on the corner of Euclid and Livingston avenues, sits the small, and in some ways infamous, residence hall called the International Living Center, known to those who live there as the ILC.

SU students often overlook this residence hall that houses no more than 40 residents. Secluded in an off-campus neighborhood, many of its freshmen residents say they are unhappy living there.

Though it is two blocks from the edge of campus, this is actually an on-campus living option. Freshmen are assigned to live there, but some current residents said they think it’s a terrible idea.

‘No freshman wants to be here,’ said Norton, a political science major. ‘If you have been here a while and are established, then it is a good building, but no freshmen should be here.’

Even though it is called the International Living Center, only four of its 36 residents are international students. In addition, most are freshmen assigned to live there. Of the original 39 residents who started in the fall semester, several have either moved buildings or transferred out of the university.

Others have made numerous phone calls and e-mails to the housing office asking to move. They have no desire to return next year.

‘I wrote like eight or nine emails to get out of here,’ freshman biology and business major Karlton Moore said. ‘I gave up.’

Some current freshmen residents are outraged with the building, complaining that it is too far from campus, among several other inconveniences. The ILC has no mailboxes or water fountains. Residents complain of dirty washing machines and old furniture in the rooms. They say living in the ILC has hurt some freshmen residents’ ability to build groups of friends and one said it hurt his grades.

The ILC was established in 1974 when it was bought from a discontinued sorority with the purpose of housing American and international students together, said Eileen Simmons, director of Housing, Meal Plans & ID Card Services, in an e-mail. Simmons also said freshmen have been a part of the ILC from the beginning.

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The Daily Orange (August 30, 2007)

When sophomore Travis Judd returned to campus last week, he was surprised by what happened to his former residence hall.

Last year, Judd was outraged with what he and some other residents thought were poor living conditions at the International Living Center, 401 Euclid Ave. The experience, he said, turned him away from dorm life. This year, Judd lives in a South Campus apartment.

But he soon found that the ILC – infamous for its disrepair – was no more. Well, not exactly.

Now Lyons Residence Hall, the ILC received a facelift and a name change. The building has been repainted a bright white and landscaping improves its curb appeal. New furniture adorns the lounge, and carpet covers what was once a linoleum floor.

And replacing each bathroom is a set of smaller rooms, each with its own sink, toilet and glass-enclosed shower – all behind a locking door.

‘In a way, I am kind of jealous,’ Judd said, ‘but I am glad they did something about it.’

Judd was one of several students quoted in March when The Daily Orange reported poor conditions at the dorm traditionally used for housing international students.

Residents complained about the old furniture in the rooms and lounge and that the laundry facilities were dirty.

But aggressive renovations on the part of Syracuse University changed the feel of 401 Euclid Ave. and the students who now live there.

‘It was renovated awesome,’ said freshman Gerard McTigue. ‘And we get to brag about it to everyone.’

Eileen Simmons, director of Housing, Meal Plans & ID Card Services, said residence halls usually undergo a renovation every 10 years. Though work had been done in the past decade, the university recognized the need to make some improvements to the ILC, she said.

The international living-learning community has since moved to Day Hall. ‘It was just an opportunity to focus on the building because we hadn’t focused on it in a while,’ Simmons said.

Without the community, it was time for a name change.

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