The Suite Life of UA Students: Traditonal vs Suite Style Dorms

Lauren Lane

“When UA started focusing on growth during Dr. Whit’s presidency, the HRC had to also expand to accommodate the growth,” said Kimberly Sterritt, associate director of housing administration. “At that time the trend in university housing was suite-style. That combination is what prompted the building of Riverside, Lakeside, Ridgecrest and Presidential Village.”

Sterritt said out of the 8,400 spaces in on-campus housing, only 30 percent are traditional-style, and the rest are suite or apartment-style living. Suite and apartment-style dorms have risen in popularity due to allowing students more privacy and updated living spaces.

Adam Hall, a junior majoring in economics, enjoyed his experience in a suite-style dorm so much his freshman year, he became a residential assistant (RA) in Lakeside his sophomore year. Hall said living with an RA made him want to give back to other freshmen what his RA gave to him.

“If I had to tell someone where to live, I would definitely say to go with the suite-style dorm,” Hall said. “I think that the benefits of having your own room along with a living room and kitchen far outweigh the fact that you will have to try harder to meet people where you live.”

Tyler Hill is a freshman living in Riverside North, just like her sister did two years ago. Hill, an athletic training major, said she has enjoyed having her own space and getting to build a community with a wider variety of people than if she had lived with most of her sorority sisters in Tutwiler.

“I’ve met a lot of cool people that live on my floor and have made some guy friends that I probably wouldn’t have met if I lived in Tutwiler,” Hill said. Hill said that a lot of her girl friends live in Presidential Village, but she does feel far away from many of her pledge sisters.

“Sometimes I wish I lived in Tutwiler because it is just so convenient,” Hill said. “Most of my sorority sisters live there, and [Riverside] is more expensive.”

While many students enjoy having their privacy and find their adjustment to college easier with having a living space similar to theirs at home, research shows there is a greater chance for 
isolation in suite-style dorms.

“In our annual resident survey data, students who live in traditional-style dorms report that they feel a stronger sense of community in their residence hall and feel more connected to UA,” Sterritt said.

Traditional-style dorms may not be quite as updated and modern as most of their suite-style counterparts, but the university has been spending the past few years renovating Paty and Tutwiler Hall. Sterritt said there have been major updates in order to make the traditional-style dorms more user-friendly, such as updated common rooms and kitchens.

Brooklyn Burks, a freshman majoring in business, has loved the community aspect of a traditional-style dorm and said it has made her transition into
 college much easier.

“Being able to go down a few flights of stairs and pop into your best friend’s room has been great, and I will definitely miss that next year, “ Burks said. “But being so close to your friends can be tough because you do end up being each others’ family, which can be overwhelming at times trying to handle those situations.”

Burks said living in an all-girls dorm is worth the struggles that come alongside of it and is grateful for the learning experiences that come alongside living with other college students.

“Where you live definitely can have an impact on your whole year,” Hall said. “Ultimately your experience is more about who you are and what you get involved with more than where you live – just some dorms make it easier to 
get involved.”