Smooth sailing at new student suites at Finger Lakes CC

Hilary Smith

Move-in day — with its piles of luggage, plastic crates, exasperated parents, nervous students and brawny, box-hauling volunteers — is a familiar sight at colleges across the country.

For Finger Lakes Community College, however, the Labor Day-weekend move-in was a brand new experience. The opening of the Finger Lakes College Suites on Sept. 1 marked the first time in the college's 40-year history that student housing has been available on campus.

Opening weekend was surprisingly smooth, said property manager Wanda Bailey. Bailey works for the United Group of Companies, which owns and manages the Suites and is not affiliated with the college.

The 354-bedroom building has a handsome red exterior, piazza and dramatic walkway at the entrance. Its expansive lawn has already hosted numerous games of football, Frisbee and capture-the-flag. Interior hallways are painted in neutral colors; carpets and upholstery are a deep regal red; and student lounges have rustic timber ceilings, sharply contrasted by the svelte flat-screen televisions that decorate their walls.

As their first week in the new residence draws to a close, students are raving about the Suites.

"They're really nice, and they're spacious. There's lots of cupboard space, and I like the full kitchen," said Mandi Butcher of Rochester, a first-year student.

"I feel rich," said Raymound Flowers of Rochester, also in his first year. He said that the Suites are more luxurious than any of the other college dorms he visited.

Complaints are limited to the normal dormitory gripes and a few kinks related to the newness of the building.

In the Suites' first six days, sensitive smoke detectors went off four times in addition to the one planned drill, said Flowers.

"It was really annoying," said Cassondra Dalle of Rochester, who had to hobble out of the building on crutches.

As of Thursday, some residents had been unable to access the Internet in their suites, though Bailey said the issue would be fixed by the end of the week.

And Butcher complained that some residents are disregarding the Suites' policy of quiet hours after 11 p.m., a common scenario in college dorms.

In general, complaints about the Suites are overwhelmed by the residents' glowing reviews.

"Everybody's nice; everybody shares their food, and there's always someone playing good music," said Bethany Mack of West Clarksville, Allegany County.

The resident advisors are strict but nice, and so far they have rigidly enforced the Suites' no-alcohol policy, she added.

All in all, "things are going extremely well" at the College Suites, said John Ball of the United Group. "Students are loving the product and the privacy of the suite concept. There is a good sense of community, and the worst problem we've really had was a burnt piece of toast."

Hilary Smith can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 343, or at hsmith@mpnewspapers.com.