East Carolina University hosted its fall housing fair yesterday in the Main Campus Student Center as a way to inform students of off-campus housing options before committing to signing a lease.
Brandy Daniels, the assistant director of housing operations for Off-Campus Student Services (OCSS) was signing students in for the event and answering any additional questions they might have had. She said the fall housing fair was an introduction to engage students before the larger housing fair happening in March.
“Our spring housing fair is in March, so sometimes it was a little late to get the ball rolling so we thought just having a smaller housing fair in the fall would at least engage students in that conversation and in that process,” Daniels said.
The housing fair consisted of a combination of groups and apartment complexes Daniels said. There were 19 apartment complexes, two furniture companies, six campus partners, three community partners and nine student organizations in attendance. All of the organizations and partners were there to help students with the best possible information to ease this big transition into off campus living, she said.
The apartment complexes at the housing fair were there to inform students about their prices, location from campus and the benefits to living there before they sign a lease, Daniels said. The furniture companies were there to help provide students with information on how to furnish their apartments if they are not already furnished she said.
“I think our office enjoys providing the opportunity for students to learn more about their housing options in their environment so students don’t have to go off campus and check out and apartment complex this week, they’re coming to them in their student center and they can come visit in their territory and time frame,” Daniels said.
Despite being open to all students, ECU does have a first-year live on-campus policy. Daniels said freshmen have to have lived on campus for two semesters, but there are a few exceptions for example, being married, having dependents live with you and students commuting to school within a 35-mile radius, Daniels said.
One of the organizations at the housing fair were the ECU Police Department (ECU PD). Kimberly Bell, the master police officer, was at the fair to answer any questions on safety or concerns about living off campus. Before signing a lease be sure to tour the whole apartment complex during the day and night to see how well lit and safe the area is, Bell said.
“If you’re a female student we also like telling them to get a second floor instead of first floor because the first floor is easy access for anybody to climb in the window and second floor is harder for somebody to access your window,” Bell said.
Some tips provided by Bell are along with your regular door lock add a boat lock, don’t leave any spare keys outside, make sure you have a peep hole or a way to see your front door without opening it and for sliding doors make sure you have a four by four piece of wood to block anyone from breaking in.
ECU PD does have off-campus officers assigned to each apartment complex for the safety of the people living in the complex, Bell said. Some officers assigned do offer programs for the complex to teach safety skills. On campus police also offer programs for self defense with classes in Feb., March and April she said.
Justin Nichols, the marketing manager for The Davis, said one of the things to know when looking for an apartment is to make sure you like your community and get to know your neighbors. Most apartment complexes surrounding campus do try to accommodate students by being in close proximity to campus, being inclusive and offering options for students, Nichols said.
“Make sure you choose the right roommates and make sure they find something that they find comfortable and can call home for the rest of their college years,” Nichols said.
Kayla Kramb with the District at Tar River said her biggest tip was to always take a tour of the complex. When touring a complex be sure to make sure the office staff is nice and make sure you see a maintenance staff around just in case you know maintenance is offered at the complex in case something is to happen.