240 Hearts Statement

In early January, I covered a story with the Daily Kent Stater on how the Allerton Apartments at Kent State University will be taken down entirely by 2015. When I asked Brian Hellwig, the Residence Hall Director for the Allerton apartments, why the department was doing this, he said it was just because the complex was outdated, and that Kent State could not afford to renovate the complex. Then, I asked him what was to be put in place of the apartments in 2015, but he said he had no idea, and that there is no plan for this land as of this semester.

At that point in time, I decided to talk with Betsy Joseph, Director of Residence Services at Kent State, to see what she had to say about Allerton shutting down. She said currently, it is not “cost effective to do any renovations” to the Allerton apartments. Residence Services will still fix minor plumbing and heating issues for residents who still live there, but it does not intend to restore the apartments for future years.

Joseph also said residents should be aware of the plans for the apartments.

“We made it clear to residents that if they want to live with us, they are still provided housing,” she said. “We can relocate them to other apartments during the first phase or so.”

Although Residence Services is assisting with the relocation, there is still some confusion among residents at Allerton as to what is happening to the land after it is torn down. Several residents from the Allerton community shared with me what they thought about the decision made by Residence Services.

Through some investigation and research, I found many families and individuals from the community who said they are somewhat unhappy with the situation of the apartments closing. Some said they think it is wrong for Residence Services to do this; others said they have no idea what they are going to do for living situations when their leases are up.

One individual, Salem Othman, gave me a lot of insight to the community’s perspective:

“Here at Allerton, all of us are family,” Othman said. “I am so worried about the day it closes. In my point of view, this building is new to me. They do not need to close it.”

Othman said that the Allerton community is safe, and friendly for people from more diverse backgrounds. The community houses primarily upperclass students, older students, international students and students trying to raise families.

Meeting Othman back in January really inspired me to continue documenting the community at Allerton. I wanted to find out more about what it’s like to live at Allerton; who these people are; what they think about losing their homes. Moreover, I wanted to find out what Kent State is going to give up by 2015.

I met many faces while working on this assignment, and became quite familiar with the community. Riding the bus to Allerton became a routine thing for me this semester, and to locals in the complex, I became that ‘reporter girl’ with the camera and notepad. Some of the residents recognize me now, and will wave if they see me. It was an enlightening experience to hear all of their stories, and all of their views on this issue.

Another thing that struck me when I was researching was that Allerton is home to many single-parents attending Kent State. Keisha Aiken, a senior nursing major and student mentor for the Literacy and Independence for Family Education (L.I.F.E.) program, said she helps a lot of mothers with the L.I.F.E. program find homes and support groups at the Allerton Apartments.

“It’s easy to get situated at Allerton,” Aiken said. “Moms can be around other parents and children, and all the parents at Allerton are on the same level.”

Aiken said she, herself, is a single mother who benefits from the L.I.F.E. program at Kent State. When she stayed at Allerton, she said she liked the feel and atmosphere of the community.

“[Allerton] is very college-oriented,” she said. “I was able to live on my own, while also getting the experience of college life. It helped me to raise my son since I always felt my child was safe there.”

Aiken said if Allerton is torn down completely, the L.I.F.E. program may also die down at Kent State.

Joseph said about 240 students live in the Allerton complex. These 240 people make up a small, supportive fraction of students at Kent State University. It’s its own little community, and the university wants to give this up because it is no longer able to fund for its maintenance.

The goal of this project is to document all the stories and lives of residents at Allerton. I want to tell the stories of 240 faces who are all connected to this one place.

One Response to “240 Hearts Statement”

  1. I use to stay at Allerton and I feel it is ridiculous that they are tearing down those apartments and not rebuilding them. Allerton is not just a place to stay on campus but it is a community a place where you and your child and or family can feel safe, a place we you can still feel like you apart of campus life. The bus run like every seven minutes so great transportation if you did not have a vehicle, they have a computer lab there as well. Everything was so convenient and I feel like whoever is allowing this to happen does not care. There just brushing these students off telling them there are other apartments around campus but those apartment does not community base and does not have the close in field where children can play like Allerton. These apartment’s should be torn down and rebuild back up because it gave people the opportunity to go to college with their children and be a part of campus life and now many people want have that opportunity

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