Our View | While much is new at Penn State, remember this old message: Be safe

August 24, 2013 

Some Penn State students will open the fall semester living in motel rooms, awaiting final touches at their new apartments.

Others are moving this weekend into brand new dormitories and apartments across campus and around the State College area.

The traffic congestion and long lines at stores and restaurants mean Penn State will soon be back in session. Classes start Monday.

We welcome new and returning students to the community. If this is your first week in town, we hope your time here is fulfilling and enjoyable. If you’re a returning student, you already know just how great this region can be.

And we urge students to consider their own safety as they experience the opportunities for learning and socializing the university setting offers.

Every new school year brings changes and contrasts. This year’s theme seems to be new housing.

Some tenants at The Heights, an upscale student complex between Blue Course Drive and Circleville Road in Ferguson Township, recently learned their rooms wouldn’t be ready.

The complex’s ownership group is putting up some of them at a motel, while others will get rent breaks and stay with friends short-term.

The delay affects 24 units in the 213-unit complex.

Development partner Keith Cooper said, “We’ll be delayed five to 10 days at most.”

The Heights, in the Turnberry development, is one of several brand new off-campus housing sites opening doors to students this semester.

Also just coming on line are The Retreat on Waupelani Drive; The Grove State College, on Toftrees Avenue in Patton Township; The Legacy, in State College; and The Villas at Happy Valley, in College Township.

“The project turned out great,” said Wes Rogers, president and CEO of Retreat developer Landmark Properties, based in Athens, Ga.

There’s some new and improved housing on campus, too.

Over the summer, South Halls saw renovations to two existing dorm buildings and the construction of Chace Hall in an $83 million effort.

Lyons and Haller halls were renovated in a larger project that will be finished about a year from now. The new living accommodations feature private bathrooms, kitchens and air conditioning.

“We’re excited about this week — we think we’re meeting the students’ needs,” Conal Carr, the university’s housing director, said in a CDT story Friday.

Non-housing projects folks will notice quickly include the $89 million Pegula Ice Arena, a 6,000-seat hockey and skating venue set to open in October, and a $48 million makeover at the Biobehavioral Health Building near the HUB.

There’s even something new at the Penn State Arboretum off Park Avenue. A children’s garden is to be completed by year’s end.

With all that is new this year, an old message is worth repeating: Be safe.

Campus police already reported an alleged sexual assault early Friday in a downtown State College residence, even as students were beginning to move back.

We reported on too many such incidents last school year.

And we reported on too many mishaps related to the over-consumption of alcohol and the use of other substances. Those incidents included young people falling out of windows and suffering serious injuries.

There is much to be excited about as a school year arrives.

But amid the fancy new living locations and campus construction, let’s make the theme of the whole school year safety.

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