Written by: Peter Friesen
At some point during your years at JMU, it is likely you will live off–campus. The Off-Campus Life office wants you to make an informed decision if and when you do decide to live off-campus. Their office is located on the first floor of Festival next to the Nap Nook and is always available to advise and help students in any way they can. Once every semester, the OCL Housing Fair takes place in the Festival Ballroom. OCL invites students to come and learn about Harrisonburg’s housing and community in a place that is free from the pressures of signing a lease. The most recent housing fair happened Wednesday, February 26th and had a crowd of students from the opening at 11 am to close at 2 pm.
“I have a lot of friends who live off campus, and this helps me learn about all the different apartments,” second year, Communication Sciences and Disorders major Lyndsey Hamilton said.
As soon as students walked in the door of the Off-Campus Life Housing Fair, the sheer number of housing options make themselves clear. Each housing option had their own booth to attract students in their own way. Many had giveaways to draw a crowd, such as a $1000 music festival giveaway, while other housing options advertised their high standards of living and many amenities.
When talking to property managers the lease hangs over the conversation, and students often feel pressure to decide whether to sign before weighing all of their options. At the Housing Fair, OCL creates a safe environment for students to learn about their housing options and for housing complexes to market without the pressure of signing a lease. The goal, Assistant Director of OCL Jeremy Hawkins said, “is to allow students to talk to leasing managers.”
There were not many leases being signed or pushed on students. Instead, as representatives from The Retreat said, “The goal is to get in front of students and get our name out there.”
Representatives of community resources are also in attendance during each semester’s housing fair. The bus system plays a vital role in off-campus student’s lives and their representative made sure to advertise their schedule and routes, as well as their useful existence. The Harrisonburg Police Department could not make it to the Spring Housing Fair but are usually in attendance to maintain a relationship with off-campus students. Off-Campus Life always invites On-Campus Life to make sure no student feels pressured to live off-campus and to talk to students about the benefits of living in a dorm.
Off-Campus Life knows how important it is for students to make the right decision about where they live during their time at JMU. Every semester, the Housing Fair is put on to inform students in a safe way and to help numerous Harrisonburg housing companies healthily market to students. If you want to make an informed decision about where you will be living, stop by OCL and talk to someone on your side, and next semester be sure to check out the next housing fair.