Approximately two minutes away from the University of Cincinnati's West Campus is a cluster of student housing that resembles a small community.
Stratford Heights, a project started in spring 2003, contains 14 English Tudor-style living complexes stretching along Stratford and Clifton avenues, many of which are taken up by student organizations.
Aaron Brooks, a third-year secondary education major and member of Sigma Nu, currently resides in one of the new buildings, primarily inhabited by his fraternity brothers.
There are six fraternities and one sorority that also call the area home. Stratford holds other student groups in its housing as well. University Honors Scholars reside here, as well as undergrad and graduate student researchers in the Taft House. Another house is devoted to French and Spanish speaking students as a language immersion house.
""It's a great concept,"" Brooks said. ""The area is really nice and well kept.""
There are almost 11 acres of beautiful buildings, lush green lawns and a recreation facilities to which the residents have access.
Heights Pavilion, in the heart of the community, is an all-purpose student activity center that offers elements students may desire.
It holds a convenience store, banquet facility, snack shop, fitness center and lounges, complete with pool tables and a piano room.
Though never too crowded, it is a place for students to visit without having to drive around the city. There are also basketball and volleyball courts available to the students on the far side of the community away from campus.
If you visit Stratford Heights on any average day, you will see students roaming the area and gathering in groups on the lawn and in the courtyard.
Deann Werkowitz, a third-year communications major and member of Kappa Delta, said that the courtyard is her favorite part of living here.
""I like being able to congregate there on the weekends,"" Werkowitz said.
She also mentioned the sense of community that Stratford Heights gives students.
""We can have a lot more girls living in our house,"" Werkowitz said when asked about the amount of living space in her building, ""The sorority went from being able to have 17 in the house last year, to having 32 girls living together this year. Next year, 60 percent of residents in the house will have to be Greek members for the building to be considered the official fraternity or sorority house.
The University Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation attempted to cover all of the bases for residential comfort and convenience. Students can park in the 5-level parking garage built specifically for Stratford Heights. Prices range from $80 per month for the garage and $35 for dispersed surface parking.
Housekeeping, maintenance and lawn care are included in the lease and students also have built-in cable, phone and Internet hook-ups in every room.
""There is always a party going on in the area,"" Asia Evans, a first-year physical therapy major, said.
Social events are to be planned throughout the year by the community assistants who are also student members of the UHCURC staff.
Phi Kappa Tau held ""Rock for the Red,"" a concert event to raise money for the Red Cross, at Stratford Heights earlier in the year.
Brooks, Werkowitz and Evans all mentioned the sense of freedom that residents have. As Evans pointed out however, this can be a bad thing when you are dealing with college students.
""Some people take advantage of this freedom,"" she said. ""It can interfere with the quality of living of fellow residents in the buildings.""
Many dorm residents have also said the same thing.
The University of Cincinnati was one of the three non-profit groups that organized the UHCURC and were very involved in the project. Residents are tapped into the University phone lines as well as the Internet service.
Students can sign either a nine or 12-month lease for the housing. There are single, double and triple bedrooms ranging in price from $365 to $475 per month for a 12-month lease. Leases for 9 months are more expensive.