This past week, I was invited by a friend to attend a party that she was hosting at her apartment. When I first got the text, I assumed that it would be another night of partying downtown with friends and strangers, maybe followed by a quick trip to Tino’s before the short walk back to my house. Then I came to a troubling realization: My friend lived up at Hillside Commons. In order to be a good friend, I was going to have to make the long trek of shuttle transfers and walking in order to attend the party.
Saying yes to the invite was my first mistake. From there, things would only take a turn for the worse. After riding the shuttle from downtown to the library bus stop, I was going to have to wait for another shuttle to take me up to Hillside. Riding these two shuttles probably took half an hour, far longer than any walk downtown. However, it was a Friday night and I was not thinking clearly, so I decided to walk from the library up to Hillside. I did not realize what a hike that would prove to be. Granted, I am out of shape, but walking up a mountain is no easy feat.
Once I had made the 30-minute odyssey to the front door of Hillside, I had to wait outside for five minutes because security would not let me inside without a resident’s accompaniment. Then, after shuttle rides to campus, walking up mountains and having to gain security clearance, I was finally able to enter the much-anticipated Hillside Commons. The rooms were nice, the furniture was okay and the party consisted of myself and three other people who had made the journey.
Hillside isn’t worth it. At an average price of $745 a month, far more expensive than any other off campus house, Hillside’s tanning booth, small gym and cheap furniture fall far short of justifying its costs and inconvenience. Worse yet, it takes away from the enjoyment of living downtown. Before Hillside, every SUNY Oneonta student had to endure two years of dorm life, with the knowledge that they would then be able to live downtown in their own house with their own friends.
With so many houses occupied by college students, downtown on a Friday night was an experience to say the least. Now, Hillside is taking away from that. People that could have lived downtown in a house with all of the freedom they could handle have instead been tricked into living on some far away mountaintop for prices rivaling the rent of large cities.
When Hillside was first announced I thought it would be a good idea. According to my Intro to Economics course, competition is a good thing that drives down prices. Now, Hillside is charging students over $100 more than any house downtown. If anything, the downtown rental companies could start increasing rates so that they come closer to that of Hillside’s, and the fact that these houses offer a superior product means students would still choose to pay the increased rates.
Hillside hurts the town, it rips off students and is a major inconvenience for everyone else. Hopefully students will soon realize this and start to live again in downtown Oneonta, returning it to the student housing-filled college utopia it once was and could be again.