Pittsburgh’s College Corridor
What conjures an image of fun and vitality more than the phrase “college town”? And especially clear in an economy like the present one, what industry offers more stability in roiling financial seas than a solid stable of universities? Western Pennsylvania is home to dozens.
At their hub is a group of seven, making a 5-mile college corridor that starts Downtown with Point Park University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, stretches through Uptown to Duquesne, into Oakland with Carlow University, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University and ends in Shadyside with Chatham University.
Ask young people, and they’ll have heard of the nation’s great college scenes, such as Boston and Washington, D.C. But how does Pittsburgh fare in that mix? To what degree do students at these seven schools mix and mingle? How much do students from one campus visit another? Would more interaction between them build collective and regional vitality and burnish Pittsburgh’s reputation as a center of collegiate life?
To find out, we interviewed more than 100 students and administrators at the seven schools. In the following excerpts, they discuss when and why they visit other campuses and what they’d like to see to facilitate more interaction.
Kate McEwen, Gibsonia, Pa.; senior, Chatham:
I find myself in Oakland a lot, mainly because it’s the cheapest place to go in terms of food and bars. I actually feel really intimidated when going to other schools. I like to go to Pitt because it’s so big that no one really notices that you don’t actually go there. A Web site that listed everything going on would be helpful.
Mei Chang, Austin, Texas; senior, CMU:
If I were more informed regarding activities at other schools, I would definitely check them out. This type of interaction would also enable students to venture to different parts of Pittsburgh.
Raymond Kosta, Fremont, Ohio; junior, AIP:
I only feel welcome at other campuses when those campuses are holding events. Interaction can always be beneficial. You are never aware when a good contact will be made for future employment.
Khushal Bhatt, Pittsburgh, Pa.; senior, Duquesne:
Pitt is the heart of social life in Pittsburgh, and everyone else mingles within it.
Lidija Barbaric, Chatham:
I feel very uninformed about events going on at other schools. The few I attended I discovered through word of mouth. If each campus would dedicate more time to inviting students from other schools to their events, more friendships would be made, and Pittsburgh would be an even more exciting place. It’s already a place of many cultures, why not pull them in tighter by forming a closer linkage between its youth, who are essentially the future of the community itself?
Mary Hines, President, Carlow University:
A college town is not just about hanging out with one another. It’s also about intellectual enrichment.
Lewis Lehe, Birmingham, Ala.; senior, Pitt:
Your campus, versus a network of campuses, is like the difference in opportunities between a small town and a big city. A Web site that had activities at all the colleges would help.
Sharon Yam, Hong Kong; sophomore, Pitt:
It will be great if Pittsburgh colleges can create a Web site or just a Facebook group, updating and informing students about their upcoming events. Also, publicity of on-campus, large-scale events should be expanded to the colleges nearby if financially possible.
Haley Brus, Iowa City, Iowa; Chatham ’08:
We all have different programs in different areas of interest. If we combined them, college experiences would be that much more fulfilling.
Dave Woods II, Salem, Ohio; senior, AIP:
I ride my bike to Oakland every once in a while, and it’s usually a good time because I just blend in with the rest of the college students. I can look around the campus and not be yelled at for it. If more colleges interacted with each other, it would only support more social events among people and give everyone a chance to meet new, different people.
Jennifer Church, Dean of Student Affairs, Carnegie Mellon University:
More interaction between students in Pittsburgh would probably be one of the greatest opportunities for a broader experience of what the city has to offer. People would start to think of Pittsburgh as a college town —that there is a vibrant youth community. We need to be thinking more strategically. What do we want to make possible for students to do at other campuses?
Kate Edgar, St. Louis, Mo.; senior, CMU:
Maybe start a bulletin board specifically allocated for university info, including nearby maps of the campuses.
Ethan Solak, Belle Vernon, Pa.; junior, Pitt:
Oakland is the campus for college life. If you want to meet people and have fun, you live in Oakland. There aren’t really too many exclusive parties. People from different schools can be found at different parties/houses anywhere in Oakland. Nobody really pays much attention to who went to what school. Everyone’s just having a good time.
Justin van Denend, Patterson, N.J.; CMU ‘08; grad student, Duquesne:
The Pittsburgh social life is centered around Pitt. More interaction would be a good thing, but social interaction can’t really be something that’s “encouraged” by the schools. No one wants to be told who to go play with. I’d like to see a condensed, university-only version of the City Paper. Also, a Web-based calendar or discussion board or something like that would be great.
Jasmine Davis, Los Angeles, Calif.; junior, Chatham:
My friends and I like to walk down to Pitt and CMU. Interaction between colleges is really important, especially if you go to a smaller place, like Chatham. It’s necessary for us to get away from our campus and see what’s out there in the world.
Angela Lusk, Director of Student Activities, Chatham University:
Because we are a small school, one of our big initiatives is always to draw new faces to our campus so that we have a really dynamic mix of people who come and enjoy our programs. Ninety percent of our events are open to the public, or at least to other college students. We have a “Today at Chatham” email that goes out daily to our students, including opportunities at other institutions and in the city. Boston has this phenomenal program called Colleges of the Fenway. There’s a hub of institutions all very closely connected, and they collaborate on everything from concert series to intramural programs. Every institution has a reserve of event tickets and opportunities to engage in those programs. That is how I see the future of where we could take the collaborative efforts.
Interviews by Saxon Baum, Andrea Bosco, Kelly Anne Cahill, Jessica Dailey, Caitlin Kelley, Colleen Kennedy, Allyson Koerner, Jenelle Pifer, and Anton Skerl