Southside Commons, Lehigh U’s newest housing option opened fall 2019, welcoming over 400 student residents. Apartments are available to juniors, seniors and graduate students, and range from studios to four bedrooms residences. (Shana Lichaw/B&W Staff)

Students weigh pros and cons of SouthSide Commons housing


SouthSide Commons, the Brodhead Avenue Lehigh University affiliated housing complex, is now home to more than 400 Lehigh students. The building, which is managed by Greystar Real Estate Partners, officially opened its doors on Aug. 13 after months of construction.

The apartments are available to juniors, seniors and graduate students, and range from studios to four-bedroom residences. Students also have access to the building’s gym, lawn area, bike storage and study spaces.

SouthSide resident Aviva Mishkel, ‘21, said having a gym where she lives is very convenient. She said she enjoys other amenities, including the elevators since her apartment is located on the fifth floor.

“Pretty much everything you need to get by is included with the apartments, which is pretty clutch,” SouthSide Commons Community Assistant Alex Mow, ’21, said.

Mow said having access to dishwashers, microwaves and laundry machines all in one building makes a big difference.

He said if he needs to run an errand, the building is just a quick walk away from CVS, Rite Aid and other stores in South Bethlehem. Mow said he also enjoys the close proximity of SouthSide Commons to his classes on Asa Packer Campus.

Otto Capps, ‘21, said because of the SouthSide Commons’ ideal location, he does not have to walk up or down the mountain. He said he can even take a scooter to class.

Capps said when he returns to his apartment after class, he feels safe because he has to scan into the building twice—one time for each door. He said the presence of cameras also makes him feel safer in SouthSide Commons than he would at any other off-campus residence.

Although the residents are overall pleased with the new apartments, some problems still exist.

“Because it was built so quickly, some of the things aren’t up to par,” Capps said.

Mishkel said the garbage system in SouthSide Commons could be improved. There is no place for residents to dispose of trash on individual floors— instead, there is one waste bin for the community located in the parking lot.

This is an inconvenience for Mishkel, as she has to cart her trash down five floors to an often-overfilled dumpster, she said. Many residents also are disgruntled by this policy and have started a petition regarding the situation.

Mow said residents often complain that the water pressure in SouthSide Commons is too light.

However, Mow explained that when problems arise, there is always someone on duty to call. Residents can dial the phone number of whomever is on duty, and that person will assess the situation and arrange for repairs.

As a community assistant, Mow said he assists residents when they are locked out of their apartments and hosts events for the community.

This semester, Mow said he has helped organize fire pit nights, barbeques, a tie-dye event and free giveaways. He said he is currently planning a yoga event.

Mishkel said in only the first month of living at SouthSide, she feels a sense of community. She said she thinks SouthSide Commons is the nicest student housing at Lehigh.

“It kind of feels like living in a hotel, but it’s also really homey,” Mishkel said.

Mow said he puts SouthSide Commons in a completely separate league from other dorms or residences on campus.

“You can’t even compare the two,” Mow said. “It’s like apples to oranges, you know?”

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  1. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    “Mow said he puts SouthSide Commons in a completely separate league from other dorms or residences on campus.” I’ve never been in a prison but my recollection of the dorms (Richards & Centennial) I was in and general knowledge lead me to believe they were cell like in size. If you sleep and study, it’s adequate and Centennial had common areas. A community of individuals developed in such circumstances. Do current housing solutions develop community? “Mishkel said in only the first month of living at SouthSide, she feels a sense of community.” What Mishkel described elsewhere were the amenities, maybe later she can describe a community that may develop.

    • All first and second year students are still required to live on-campus. The article mentions this apartment complex is only for juniors, seniors, and grad students, who usually opt for off-campus living anyway. By then, students have Greek life, clubs, and friends in their major for a sense of community. Source: I graduated a few years ago.

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