New hire to help students with off-campus housing

February 9, 2012

Ashley Darnell, assistant director of off-campus student services. (Photo provided by Housing and Food Services)

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University Residences and Purdue's dean of students have teamed up to create a new position to help students navigate the world of off-campus housing.

Ashley Darnell, who previously worked in a similar capacity at the University of Pennsylvania, started Jan. 3 as Purdue's new assistant director of off-campus student services.

Darnell's job is to help students make informed decisions when deciding between on- and off-campus housing -- and to help them understand the often-complicated process of securing the latter, says Bob Heitert, director of administration for University Residences.

The idea to create the position arose last year, when it became apparent that more freshmen would be living off campus because the class size was larger than normal, Heitert says. Also, Barbara Frazee, director of University Residences, and Danita Brown, dean of students, wanted to provide students living off-campus with more resources.

"The creation of this position was aimed at students living off campus in general, but there also were some very specific groups we all agreed needed attention, including international students," Heitert says. "Also, in University Residences we house about 90 percent of the incoming student class. We felt the other 10 percent needed a resource to help with housing, too."

Before coming to Purdue, Darnell most recently worked for five years as the coordinator of off-campus services at the University of Pennsylvania. Before that, he worked as a residence coordinator at Florida State University and as a community director at George Washington University.

This month, Darnell will begin coordinating residence hall programming at Purdue. It will offer students information including the pros and cons of off-campus and on-campus housing, how to go about securing off-campus housing and how to approach landlord-tenant issues.

In addition to helping students feel more comfortable with the off-campus housing process, Darnell's work will help support the students' academics, he says.

"If we can assist them so that they're not having issues with housing -- on campus or off -- certainly there's a benefit because it allows them to focus on their academics," Darnell says.