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On-campus housing now facing stiff competition

New Mexico State University Housing is now in competition with off-campus housing in a way not experienced before.

In July 2016, the NMSU Board of Regents made it mandatory for freshman to live on campus for two semesters. According to information contained on the NMSU housing website, research shows students living on campus “gain many more benefits and rewards than those living off campus.

The Flats, located just north of the Pan Am Center on Wisconsin Avenue, officially opened over the summer. The luxury apartments are creating new challenges for NMSU Housing and Residential Life. (Photo courtesy of The Flats)

Despite what the research suggests, only about 20 percent of NMSU students live in college-owned or -operated housing.

The desire for an academic-based living arrangement that isn’t university-operated, but also isn’t like a regular apartment, is what has led to a new and booming business.

High-class luxury student apartments have been popping up near universities around the nation, and this summer the trend made its debut here in Las Cruces.

The Flats at Ridgeview is the first luxury student apartment to open near New Mexico State University. The complex is located just north of NMSU on Wisconsin Avenue. It may appear to be like any other apartment from the outside, but what differentiates it from the rest is that it’s completely centered on student success by catering to “career-focused students” and professionals.

In addition to brand-new apartments, The Flats feature several study rooms, a large conference room, as well as additional non-academic luxuries, such as a resort-style pool and reserved, covered parking. The Flats also offers by-the-room leases, which means residents are not held accountable if their roommates can’t make rent. These accommodations may be enough to attract students to leave campus and pay higher fees.

“I really do think luxury student housing is worth the extra rent,” NMSU junior Camila Mota said. “I feel comfortable in my apartment, and it’s a place I call home. I’m always happy to be back at my apartment after a long day, and I don’t think you can get that feeling everywhere.”

While NMSU offers various housing options for upperclass students, living off campus is very popular. On-campus options may provide more convenience for students regarding location and payment plans, but off-campus apartments tend to offer a bit more freedom and space from school.

“I feel like I have way more freedom living at The Flats,” said NMSU senior McKenzie McKay. “Living on campus was convenient but dealing with housing was a pain.”

The NMSU Residents Hall Association and the Flats are in competition not only for student residents, but employees as well.

NMSU’s former south campus housing director, Tim Chambers, resigned this summer to take the position of general manager at The Flats, according to RHA president Alexander Warner-Garrett.

“Housing and Residential Life has experienced a high rate of turnover in recent years, and Tim’s departure from Housing is no exception,” Warner-Garrett said. “This high rate of turnover is difficult for our resident assistant staff, as well as community councils and RHA, due to inconsistent leadership and advising from professional staff within Housing. Within the last four years, RHA alone has had five different advisors.”

The challenges facing the NMSU housing department are to establish more consistent leadership and to continue to encourage students to keep living on campus, according to Warner-Garrett.

“With the recent opening of The Flats, there is definitely increased competition from off-campus apartment complexes,” Warner-Garrett said. “Due to our first-year on-campus living requirement, we don’t see the competition as a threat for first-year students, but we do see it as a challenge to encourage sophomores and above to continue living in our on-campus apartment communities. This is one of our goals with the first-year residential experience. We want our freshmen to see the benefits of living on campus and incentivize them to continue living on campus throughout the remainder of their years at NMSU.”

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