The end

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2011 by mwilki11

It was a cold day in mid-January when I began the interview process for the Allerton apartment assignment for the Daily Kent Stater. Snow piled up high on the ground; the wind froze my face as I stood waiting for a PARTA bus to take me back to the main Kent campus.

Aside from what the Allerton Residence Hall Director told me, I received little input that morning from people for the assignment. I sincerely thought it was time for me to give up on the project; I wanted to tell my editor to forget covering my half of the story.

Initially, I didn’t really care bout the Allerton apartment assignment. It didn’t bug me too much that the complex was closing down since it wouldn’t affect me in any way. I had no clue that I would still be working on this particular assignment three months later, and be extremely passionate about it.

Across from me stood a young woman with a toddler, who held on tight to her and. A school bus rolled in, and a small boy hopped off. He was no more than five years old. He ran over to his mom and little sister. The school bus looped around, and drove out of the complex.

I walked over to the young woman with the two kids before they headed back to their apartment, and I asked her if she could help me out with a project. I told her how I was reporting on the closing of the Allerton apartments, and asked if she wanted to comment on the issue.

She politely said, “No, thanks” since she had other work to do, but she directed me to talk to her husband, Salem Othman. She said he would be willing to talk about what was happening at Allerton.

Speaking with Othman really opened my eyes to the true story behind the closing of the Allerton apartments. I could tell just by the tone of his voice in this fifteen minute interview that he was upset by the university’s decision to take down the complex. He loved his new home at Allerton, and he wanted to continue raising a family there for at least a few more years.

His words inspired me to find other stories of residents from the complex. This semester, I enjoyed going to the apartments to talk to people, and to take photographs, though it was awkward at first.

I think it’s ironic that three months later, just as I’m about to submit this whole project for my multimedia techniques class, I by-chance ran into the same woman who helped me start my project. I saw the young woman holding onto her son’s hand this past Wednesday night outside the Kent State Student Center. Only this time, she approached me, asking for help to find her daughter, who had wandered off.

She was the first person I talked to for the Allerton project, and I think it’s wholly fitting that I saw her again right at the end of my project. She didn’t remember who I was, but I remembered her clearly. Though I never figured out what her name was, she is one of the 240 hearts residing in the Allerton community at Kent State.

I agreed to help look for her daughter, and we found her by the stairs inside the Student Center. She thanked me, and went on her way home.

Center for Adult and Veteran Students Q & A

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2011 by mwilki11

Keisha Aikens working in the Center for Adult and Veteran Students (CAVS) at Kent State.

Keisha Aiken is a senior nursing major and a student employee who works for the Center for Adult and Veteran Students (CAVS) at Kent State University. Aiken said she used to live at the Allerton apartments through the Literacy and Independence for Family Education (L.I.F.E.) program with her son as a single mother. CAVS sometimes directs adult students to Allerton for housing.

Me: What are some of the benefits to living at Allerton for adult students?
Aiken: The benefits of Allerton is that it’s right on campus, and the bus comes literally every seven minutes. It’s very convenient because even if you’re not a traditional student, you feel like one because you’re surrounded by people on campus. It also has a nice computer lab, and if you have a child, it’s perfect because of the area. It’s its own community.

Me: Why do you think Residence Services is shutting Allerton down?
Aiken: I feel they’re shutting them down because they felt like they’re old and outdated. So, I guess the apartments are in poor conditions. I understand that they’re not the best, but they should be putting something back in place of them. Residence Services is taking something away from actual families. That was a reason I came here. I had a one-year-old son at the time, and I was like ‘wow, you can go to school while raising a child.’ The closing of the apartments will hinder a lot of families from going to college. Some of them have nowhere else to go.

Me: Do you think the closing of Allerton will hurt the adult student community at Kent State?
Aiken: Definitely. Some of these residents are only getting a year to leave, and that’s it. They have to find a whole new home, and a lot of these people came from other countries with families, and I don’t think the Residence Services is caring enough about that issue. It’s ridiculous. It’s not about finding other apartments; it’s a simple fact that Allerton is a community. It’s a place where if you don’t have transportation, it’s there for you. It’s a place where you build a community and relationships. You can go to neighbors for help. It seems as if they only care about money. I feel by them tearing these apartments down, they’re losing a lot at the University.

Me: Will CAVS help students find new homes and apartments later?
Aiken: I know we have made up a package full of information that lists different apartments areound the area in this office. People have come in here to find places for cheaper, so we made the package up. As far as I know, that’s all we do. Often, we recommend Allerton for one of our single-mom organizations called L.I.F.E. That’s one reason I went to live at Allerton.

Me: What did you like about living at Allerton, yourself?
Aiken: I loved it. It was very college-oriented, and I also got to live on my own. I got the experience of college life, while still having my own apartment with my son. It helped me to raise a child. Because of the L.I.F.E. program I was a part of, I could stay at Allerton. The single moms involved in L.I.F.E. all helped each other out. I always felt my child was safe. I enjoyed it. If they tear down all of Allerton, Kent State may also get rid of the single-parent program.

Me: What was it like being a single mom when you started going to Kent State?
Aiken: I felt like with Allerton, it was easy to get situated. It’s an easy transition. Moms can be around other parents and children, and all these parents at Allerton are on the same level. They all want to go to school, have children and be close to campus. Things would have been more difficult if I hadn’t lived at Allerton.

Me: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Aiken: I just feel really bad for some of the families being told to move out. We have some L.I.F.E. moms there now, and they’re scrambling trying to figure out where they’ll stay after May. They’re tearing all the apartments down three at a time, and trying to find another place is really tough. It seems they have no sympathy for some of these families. These people have children, and actual lives outside of themselves.

Reggie Stewart Q & A

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 by mwilki11

Stewart (right) and his roommate, Mohamed Bamba (left), play pool in the basement of the Kent State Student Center once in a while for leisure.

Reggie Stewart is a junior pre-human development family studies major at Kent State University. Stewart has lived in the apartment complex the past year as an older, returning student. Stewart said so far, he likes living at the Allerton complex.

Me: How long have you lived in the Allerton Apartments?
Stewart: This is my second semester in the apartments.

Me: Why did you choose to live in Allerton?
Stewart: When I worked at Tri-C, my supervisor lived in Kent, and he’s now working at Kent State. He suggested that I live at Allerton because of the family setting. By me being 58 with a huge age difference, the Allerton Apartments worked better for me.

Me: What are some things you like about the community?
Stewart: It’s quiet and it’s convenient, definitely. I get a chance to meet some very interesting people around the complex, mostly in the computer room. They have three computers in there near the office. I compliment the people working in the office since they’re always here working in the apartment complex.

Me: How much longer do you intend to stay at Allerton?
Stewart: I’m scheduled the rest of this semester, and I will stay here until I graduate in Spring 2012. I live in apartment M, which is being torn down first. They said this particular building costs the most to maintain. I don’t know why since it’s just like the rest of the buildings. But my roommate and I will continue to live here until we graduate.

Me: You’re from Cleveland, right? Do you go home often?
Stewart: Every week on Tuesday’s for my choir rehearsal and Sunday morning for ministry.

Me: Who do you live with at Allerton?
Stewart: Just my roommate, Mohamed Bamba. We met here in Kent.

Me: What do you think about Residence Services closing the apartments?
Stewart: That’s just a waste, you know? The apartments aren’t bad. They don’t even look old. It’s nice inside. I had a problem with the heat, and a gentleman came to fix it, but he did a poor job. Aside from that, the convenience of Allerton is great. I think closing it is going to cause problems. There are other places, but they’re not as close. At Allerton, I can walk to class, ride a bike or take a bus.

Me: Why do you think they’re closing Allerton?
Stewart: I don’t see why they’re closing it. The buildings are in decent shape, but might need some renovations.

Leland Sykes Q & A

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 by mwilki11

Leland Sykes is a senior fashion design major at Kent State University. He currently lives with a roommate in Apartment B of the Allerton complex. Though the deconstruction of the complex will not entirely affect him, Sykes shares his opinions about the decision to tear down Allerton.

Me: Why are you coming back to study at Kent State as an older student?
Sykes: Because they provided a good program in the fashion design sequence. I couldn’t find anything else that matched in the Midwest region of the U.S. and Kent State’s program is recognized on a national level. I didn’t have resources to move out of the country or to New York, either, so I came back to Kent State to study this. I feel the four-year bachelor’s degree here will help me. Kent State has taught me a lot, and I was exposed to a lot in the fashion industry. It didn’t give me everything, but it provided me with a good foundation for my future.

Me: Why did you choose to live at Allerton?
Sykes: It was referred to me by the adult student center. The director at the time told me about Allerton because I was older than the traditional college-aged student. I didn’t want to live in the dorms, so I checked out the apartments, and it worked. I signed the lease, and I’ve been there for four years.

Me: How much longer will you stay in Allerton?
Sykes: Only until May 2011. I graduate in August, but my lease is up in May. I have to pack up and leave for the summer semester. I’m going back to Akron to stay in my parents house. It wasn’t a big issue since Allerton will still be open this summer for others, but I just didn’t want to get another lease.

Me: So your leaving has nothing to do with them tearing down the apartments, exactly?
Sykes: No. I live in Apartment B, and that will be one of the last ones to go in 2015 since its for mostly undergraduates. I believe family housing will be the first to leave in 2012, which are apartments K, L and M.

Me: Do you live alone or with a roommate?
Sykes: I have a roommate. Each year, I’ve had a different roommate since I started at Allerton freshman year.

Me: What is the community like at Allerton?
Sykes: It’s quiet, and I really like it. You know, it’s a mature environment. You get to meet very mature people. It’s convenient, too, because of the bus system at Kent State. It’s on-campus, technically, but it feels more like it’s off-campus. It’s so out of the way from the main campus that it’s like its own little neighborhood. Everyone is nice, there’s no violence, no major parties and no domestic violence. I prefer it since I’m an older student. Even living in the residential streets by the fraternity houses would have been difficult for me.

Me: Why do you think Residence Services wants to tear down the Allerton complex, and how did you react to this news?
Sykes: At first, I thought they were just going to rebuild them, which I had no problem with that. It made sense. But then I found out they had no plan for the land, and I was like ‘what the hell are they doing?’ It’s a place many people know about and consider living in. People care about Allerton. Some international students only go to Kent State because there’s this nice community for them. International students may advertise the housing of Allerton by word-of-mouth to people back in their home country, so it’s ridiculous for Kent State to just not replace them. Sure, they don’t have to rebuild some grand apartment complex to replace them like Campus Pointe, but just something to house international students and adults alike. Not everyone fits in with the dorm or college scene. You need a place that’s conducive to this other lifestyle, and it’s just wrong of Residence Services to do that. It put a lot of individuals in a bind.

Me: What are some things that could be improved at Allerton?
Sykes: Well, they are at least 30 to 40 years old. The bedrooms could be a little larger, and it needs air conditioning. That’s about it, though. I don’t have any issues because they provide all utilities like free cable and high speed internet.

Me: What are the buildings like on the interior?
Sykes: They’re pretty solid, but I feel the interior design could be improved a little bit with the lighting, painting and heating systems. Plus, the decor in the bathrooms is a little outdated with multi-colored, checkered tiles.

Me: What is a good memory of the apartments for you?
Sykes: I’ve met so many awesome people from all over the world by living at Allerton. I’ve made friends with people from so many different countries like Jordan, India, Taiwan, Armania, England, Bulgaria and China to name a few. People come here from so many different locations, so I’d say that’s one of my best memories. The awesome friendships in the quiet environment. It’s nice to just come home to a quiet place since you can get sleep and don’t have to worry about crazy, wild neighbors. I appreciate coming home to Allerton. If I want to be noisy, I can go somewhere else. That was the best.

Salem Othman Q & A

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2011 by mwilki11

Salem Othman is a graduate student in computer sciences at Kent State University. Othman found the Allerton Apartments in August 2010 so he could house his wife and two children. However, shortly after moving in, he realized that his family would be kicked out after three semesters.

Me: What do you think about the closing of the Allerton Apartments?
Othman: I don’t know where I have to go because these apartments are nearest to the PARTA buses. My wife is a student with me. The bus helps us get to the school because we have children. One of us has to be with our children at all times, and my wife cannot drive, so if I go to another place far from the university, it will be a big problem for me. My home country of Libya gave me not a lot of money, so if I go to another apartment, I may not be able to pay rent fees. I am extremely worried about finding a new place. The day will come when I’ll have to move out, and I don’t know where it will be.
Here at Allerton, all of us are like one family. In my point of view, this building is new, though they say it is old. Why do they need to close it?

Me: Why did you choose to live at Allerton?
Othman: It is a safer place than most for my family. All the people around here are students, and there is a bus service. It is also only $750 a month with utilities.

Me: What was your reaction when you found out Allerton would be closing?
Othman: When Residence Services said they were closing, everything changed for me. Life will be more difficult since my wife cannot drive, yet. If I knew before coming here that this would happen, I may have gone to school somewhere else.
Allerton is a great place for students. I have two children, and it is good for them since they can play outside sometimes, and it is safe. All our neighbors help take care of the children. It is happy, comfortable and convenient.

Me: What are the pros and cons to living at Allerton?
Othman: There are no cons to living here. Everything is perfectly fine. I hear there are some problems with paying extra money for parking, but it’s not a big deal.

Me: So, do you like the Allerton community, then?
Othman: Yes. They are very nice and helpful. It’s quiet. I like that other students can help you if you need any help in your classes. Believe me, the community here is very nice and helpful.

Me: That’s cool. Are you bothered that residence services is tearing down the complex here with no plan for the land, as of this semester?
Othman: It’s really bothering me. This community is beneficial to students. If you remove these apartments, it will just be free land with no use. It’s not benefiting students. Believe me, I have some friends back home I’ve told about this university, and they may not come if I tell them this community will be shut down. They may go to another university because this community will be gone. I like that these buildings belong to Kent.

Me: How much longer will you live in the Allerton Apartments?
Othman: I will live here another three semesters. My scholarship lasts five years, though, so I will still be at Kent State.