Cleveland State launches new FYRE program for freshman

By Courtney Gast

Junior Pre-Occupational Therapy and Psychology major

Around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, Fenn Tower residents were informed that during the following academic year, 2019-2020, they would not be able to live there.

They would not be able to live in the place they once called home with their school family, the place in which they may have started and wanted to finish their schooling career.

Instead of being able to live in a place  that was not only the most affordable, but came with a beautiful view, they were now informed that this piece of dorm luxury had been taken from the palms of their hands.

The First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE) is a new, year-long program at Cleveland State designed to help students become better acquainted with their university, peers and course work.  Generally, the program was put in place to help students make the transition from high school to college easier.

Some residents scrambled for other plans, while others did not care or even realize that such an event had occurred. Fenn Tower residents were robbed of their home with only 62 hours to come up with a new plan.

Directly impacted by the sudden change were residents who live in doubles. These residents would have to find two other roommates in less than 62 hours, in preparation for room selection on Saturday, March 30. Failure to find two other roommates would result in random placement with people they many not even know.

This may not be a problem to some, but for others this, could cause unnecessary stress.

Those who live in the doubles now have to financially account for food, cooking supplies, dishware and other miscellaneous entities that they may not have had from previously living in a Fenn Tower double without a kitchen.

The residents from the quad rooms are also impacted, but the change isn’t as severe. These residents now get to live in private rooms versus shared bedrooms. Quad residents already had a kitchen in Fenn Tower, so they had the supplies imperative for a kitchen. These residents may have also prepicked their roommates.

Although the change serves as a bigger inconvenience to the residents in double rooms, even the residents in the quads are affected. No matter the housing situation, all of these residents are being stripped and displaced from their home, their sense of familiarity.

Fenn Tower may not have private rooms, fancy kitchens, laundry rooms on all the floors, full-sized beds or large bathrooms, but it was our place to call home.

Fenn Tower created lasting friendships, relationships and memories galore. This place was not just a building to sleep in, binge watch all your favorite shows or lay low.

Fenn Tower was home for a lot of students, as everyone knew everyone. Resident Assistants (RAs) would adopt new residents as relationships formed and people naturally came together.

Fenn Tower brought with it a family-like atmosphere that was diverse in class, degrees and ages. Being a resident there, it felt as though everyone could benefit from a fellow student because everyone lent a hand when needed— no matter if you were a new student or a returning one.

With the welcoming atmosphere, residents felt comfortable enough amongst one another to ask questions even when a RA was not around.

Maybe you needed help scheduling for classes, but were too shy to make an appointment with your advisor, or you needed advice, but never wanted to bother your RA. Having an upperclassman to answer those questions was a key part for some’s transitional success into college.

With first-year students living in an entirely freshmen dorm, they may gain  knowledge of campus life through programs specifically tailored to them. Despite these programs giving students the tools needed for better study habits and how to be successful in college, it doesn’t give them the opportunity to talk to upperclassmen who have  already experienced these situations firsthand.

Whether it’s having an upperclassman enforce the rules by teaching them  things like elevator courtesy or gaining valuable support from someone who has already dealt with the frustrations of having a class with a horrible professor or taking on too many activities, it is important to have older figures to help out with the pain of your first year of college.

Without having upperclassmen there to help with the life-changing experience from high school to college, freshman are losing a vital part of this transition. Resident Assistants are not able to do all of this all on their own; they need upperclassmen just as much as the freshmen do.

This new program leaves returning residents feeling undervalued, unheard and frustrated that Cleveland State is prioritizing getting more money and more first-year residents than valuing and protecting returning residents by kicking them out of the home they’ve come to love.

Although I am resentful and not fond of this decision, I leave you with this: Fenn Tower will always be my home.

It has been my home for three years. It is the place where I met my boyfriend and my best friends. It allows me to hang out and look at our skyline as I watch the fireworks at Progressive Field, admiring the twinkling lights of downtown and watch the snow as it falls from the sky.It is also the place I take joy in the blaring sounds of fire trucks rushing by as I wonder, “Who did what this time?”

Fenn Tower, to me, is not just my place to live and a  place to call home, it’s a place where I share my fondest memories. Although I am very sad to be leaving Fenn Tower, I am happy to have freshman be integrated into campus life within the place I once called my home.

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