SRU’s associate provost for student success Dr. David Wilmes recently met with off-campus property owners to create a relationship that will allow the university to advocate for students and create a safer environment.
Wilmes said that all of the large apartment complexes, such as The Heights and The Grove, were represented, as well as landlords who own other properties throughout Slippery Rock.
“This meeting was really an initial meeting of an ongoing plan that I have to have annual meetings with the landlords,” Wilmes said.
Wilmes said the university recognizes that many of its students live off campus, and that the university wants to make sure that students have the information they need regarding what resources they can still access, like the health center.
Wilmes said another issue that was addressed was that some off-campus students don’t realize who they turn to in the case of an emergency, with some students having to call the borough and others calling Pennsylvania State Police.
“I want to work more on getting our off-campus students to recognize the things that they need so that they can be safe,” Wilmes said.
Wilmes said another idea discussed at the meeting was a possible off-campus housing fair next fall, where the various complexes and landlords would promote their properties while the university would offer information to students about what to look for in a lease, what to be aware of when a lease is signed and how difficult it can to break a lease.
“We want to make sure they’re educated before they jump into some of these contracts,” Wilmes said.
Wilmes said that for now, annual meetings are planned, but the frequency of meetings could increase if there’s a demand.
“The difficult thing is that it’s hard to get everybody together in the same room,” Wilmes said.
Wilmes said that the relationship has the potential for a lot of other positive things, such as the university helping off-campus housing with recycling efforts. Wilmes said the landlords also were concerned with the safety of Harmony Road because of sidewalks and lighting, and that there is potential there since the landowners could help advocate to the borough.
“It’s about recognizing that 90 percent of the people that live in these apartments are SRU students, and we want to make sure we serve them as well as we serve our students that live on campus,” Wilmes said.