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Fair extends possibilities for student housing

Nov. 8, 2005

by JIM RAY, reporter

They want their roof over your head.

Representatives promoting dozens of student living options will vie at the Baylor housing fair today for the lease signatures of the largest freshman class in the history of Baylor. Bear Cribs online housing locator, which will display its new Web site and DVD today, is sponsoring the Baylor housing fair from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

A new contender this year is Campus Living and Learning. Although the housing fair largely features off-campus promoters, "We would be remiss not to participate," said Terri Garrett, director for housing administration and academic initiatives at Baylor.

"We want to show them that we have as much to offer as off-campus housing does," Garrett said.

Claudia Hammond, manager of Waco Park Apartments, recommends that each student approach the fair with an open mind. She compared apartment hunting to clothes shopping.

"If you're looking for a blue shirt with polka dots, you probably won't find it," she said. But if you don't narrow your options early, "you might find something you like better," she added.

Waco Park Apartments is the November apartment complex of the month on the Bear Cribs site, which now includes pictures, floor plans and improved search functions.

"I'm taking all the feedback I've received and all I've learned over the past two years and I'm putting it into the site," said Ryan Young, senior business major and site creator. Among the new search possibilities, Bear Cribs now allows students to hunt by lease duration.

Young said he will be "shoveling out" thousands of promotional DVDs to students.

Convenience may be the fair's best benefit, Young said.

"Not having to waste a tank of gas" visiting several housing locations is one lure, he said.

While no ranking system is in place on Young's site, the housing fair is his answer to ratings requests.

"You can usually tell how helpful and student-friendly the management is by talking to them," Young said.

Any students looking for "management that cares" should explore the fair in order to match a "management face and persona with an apartment name," Young said.

"You're also likely be offered special incentives," Young said.

Incentives may be more likely in light of heightened competition. The Baylor 2012 initiative spotlights on-campus community and expanded housing.

"We're going to talk about the benefits of staying on campus a second year," Garrett said. Campus Living and Learning now accommodates 35 percent of the undergraduate population, Garret said. Once the Brooks Village plan is approved, she expects that percentage to rise.

On-campus housing does not appear on the Bear Cribs site as of yet, though Young said he would welcome the on-campus option.

As numbers of students stand, there are plenty of residents to go around. The freshman class threatened to burst the Baylor bubble this year.

Overcrowding emerged when the freshman class outnumbered expectations. Campus Living and Learning went so far as to offer financial incentives encouraging dormitory residents to live elsewhere. Students were asked to aid the university during the crowding crisis by moving into Baylor-owned, off-campus apartments, Garrett said.

Both Bear Cribs and Campus Living and Learning recommend exploring living arrangements now for the summer and fall semesters. Today's housing fair is scheduled in conjunction with Dr Pepper hour.