Married student housing is not just a teenage dream

Clint Heinze -- Married students Aaron and Christian Lawson play with their son, Malachi.

Married and living on campus is not a teenage dream; it is a road to living happily ever after.

It has been four years since married student housing was last offered on campus. At that time a group of apartments were used for housing married students at University Place.

In May 2007, the offer of housing for married students ended due to the increasing growth of the student population.

This year brought the highest number of freshman enrollment and a new living area. The purchase of the Parkside Apartment complex (now known as The Colony) has opened doors for many students.

Lancer Arms received a facelift this summer after a great deal of renovation. The complex was transformed into housing for non-traditional and married students and university offices. The new living area was not a project until after the Colony was purchased.

“It was something that came up suddenly,” Brandon Burns, residence director for Lancer Arms, said. “The purchasing of the Colony opened up availability to offer married student housing.”

There are 27 married students who call Lancer Arms home. It has been a convenient accommodation for these students as it is not a simple task juggling school, work, family and marriage itself.

“It is nice to live on campus because class and home are so close to one another,” Christian Lawson, Christian studies major, wife and mother of one, said.

The apartment layouts are similar to what they were before. There is still the option of choosing a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment. Students also have the option of bringing their own furniture. However, furniture can be provided if needed.

Due to the fact that Lancer Arms is designed to be regular apartments, they do not share all the same rules, like curfews, of other living areas. There are still limitations as to painting, using candles and hanging items on the wall with nails.

The placement of married students is intermixed with non-traditional students. There is no section that separates one category of students from another.

“Our goal was to scatter them throughout,” Burns said. “We really wanted it to be where they were growing from one another as they are in different points in life.”

The building of community has grown slowly. Planned events are unique because the targeted audience is different from students in other living areas. Because students are in different places in their lives, their schedules vary greatly from one another.

“As an RD, the biggest challenge I face is catering to the different needs of people. It is a challenge trying to figure out when people are home,” Burns said.

Though this may be true, it has not stopped students from getting to know their neighbors.

“It has been strenuous because we want to build community. I try to do as much as I can for us to help

build it,” Lawson said.

There were several events that were successfully executed. These included Monday Night Football gatherings, a progressive dinner, a dessert night and a barbecue.

Married students seem to enjoy living on campus because of the convenient accommodations. From not needing a meal plan to being close to home and school, living as a married student has been a success.

“One thing I particularly enjoy about living here is having my own kitchen to cook for my family,” Lawson said.

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