Students were already making themselves feel at home in the new Schenectady County Community College dormitory on Friday — eating free pizza, watching television and playing games.
“It makes me want to come back to college,” said Rohan Telpha of the Bronx, whose brother Nigel Walters was moving in. “Back in my era it wasn’t like this. He got it easy. We didn’t have this luxury lounge. We didn’t have a gym. Plus the school is right across the street.”
Walters, who plans to study business, said he liked his room. “It’s nice. It’s huge.”
Walters was among the roughly 200 students getting settled in the new 112,000-square-foot College Suites at Washington Square located directly across from SCCC. The Troy-based United Group of Companies spent $13 million on the 264-bed facility, which college officials believe will attract students from the Capital Region and beyond.
The students enjoyed pizza and salad courtesy of Gabriel’s and dinner later that day courtesy of Bomber’s.
Nicolette Viscusi, marketing coordinator for the United Group of Companies, said there was a lot of excitement on move-in day.
“We had kids here right at 7:30 this morning. We were ready for them,” she said.
Housing officials won’t say exactly how many of the rooms have been leased but said that there have been more than 200 applications and some are still being processed. One unit in a four-bedroom, two-bath suite rents for $635 per month.
Aviation student Holly Everett of East Greenbush, who was making her fourth trip to the elevator with her belongings, said she wanted to be close to the campus. “I have my room that I don’t have to share,” she said.
Culinary arts student Kate Schonfarber of Gloversville also liked the proximity to the classes. “I didn’t want to commute and also the dorms are really nice,” she said.
Jessica McGraw of Saratoga Springs, who is also studying culinary arts, said she was one of the first people who signed up for student housing when the fliers started circulating last year.
McGraw, who one day wants to work for Royal Caribbean cruise lines, said she couldn’t wait to start cooking in the kitchen and “kick somebody’s butt at pool.”
Culinary student Denia Gaillard of Schenectady said she was excited to get away from home and be on her own for awhile. She likes the new digs. “They’re really nice, really spacious.”
The dormitory is attracting students from beyond the Capital Region. Larisa Patrick of Fort Drum, who is studying liberal arts, also enjoyed the new digs. “It’s really nice and clean and fresh,” she said.
Jaime Heath of Catskill, one of the resident advisers “called community managers,” said she liked all the amenities that the facility has, including a 24-hour fitness center, music room, study rooms, cable television, wireless Internet and a full-service kitchen.
“There’s something for everybody — even a flight simulator room for the aviation students,” she said.
A temporary fence was scheduled to be fully erected by the end of the day Friday that would prevent students from crossing Washington Avenue anywhere other than at the corner of State Street.
Resident Director David Lee said he hopes to create a community environment for the students.
“We want to make sure they are safe, they’re getting their education and they’re happy with where they live,” he said.
SCCC President Quintin Bullock said he was excited about the opening. “It’s a great feeling. It’s been a day we’ve been looking forward to in partnering with United Group — a lot of energy, a lot of excitement.”
College officials hope the new housing will boost enrollment. Bullock said he could not provide exact numbers, but said the housing is attracting students from outside of Schenectady and he is projecting a 1.5 percent increase in total enrollment.
Board of Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said it was a great day for SCCC because it gives the students a true college experience. “It’s just beautiful. I pulled up today, the parking lot was full and there’s all young people with smiles on their faces,” she said.