“White Flight,” A Result of New Student Housing Complex
Aaron Thomas | Staff Writer
The rise of new student apartments took over the city of Raleigh last year, giving students the option to live the lap of luxury.
Granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and state-of-the-art fitness centers are some amenities that these apartments feature. The level of luxury often experienced by successful career persons is now available for students; so long as they are willing to pay up. The ability to live in affordable off-campus housing is good enough for some students. For others, paying more for the “at-home” experience may be worth the extra bucks. In most cases, white students are the ones able to afford these prices, leading many to inadvertently engage in “white flight” from once popular student complexes.
“White flight,” as defined by Merriam-Webster is “the departure of Whites from places (urban neighborhoods or schools) increasingly or predominately populated by minorities.” Wolf Creek, a popular student-housing complex, may be experiencing this as a result of a new development, The Retreat, built right beside it.
The word “retreat” means to “withdraw” or “draw back,” generally from danger. In a way, this lavish community gives white students the ability to “retreat” from Wolf Creek, a complex that is heavily populated with black students. The Retreat opened in August 2012, giving students the option to live in cottage-styled homes. It is decked out with hardwood floors, back porches to grill and relax on and built-in bookcases.
Both Wolf Creek and Retreat offer similar incentives: a shuttle to and from campus; fully furnished units; and, all inclusive prices combining internet, cable, water and electricity. The most striking difference between the two is price.
Floor rates, which are the cheapest available rent prices start as low as $469 a month at Wolf Creek. The Retreat offers floor rates as low as $615.
“The [cost of] rent at Wolf Creek is what attracted me to live there,” said Bronchez Walls, a student majoring in Psychology and Sociology. “It was the lowest of all the apartment complexes that I looked at.”
Kimberlin Torain, a sophomore in Biochemistry, enjoys The Retreat, but agreed to live there because her roommates wanted to. “It’s like 95 percent white, which can be uncomfortable depending on the situation,” said Torain.
She continued, “Around here, you already stand out for being black and some people will go out of their way to not wave back if you wave at them or whatever. They have some social events, like pool parties and game nights, and depending on how many friends you have that live here, you may have to get used to not having anyone to talk to. I think the most comfortable place here is the gym.”
Developers constructed The Retreat project for those who are able to afford its monthly price tag. Located over the hill, it is in an area where wealth is evident. Though the curb appeal is nice, some aren’t buying into it.
“I think The Retreat was built beside Wolf Creek to contrast in appearance, that is, the style, pool, and amenities,” said Leesa Moore a senior in Communication and Film Studies. “It’s more alluring, but not for those prices!”
Walls believe The Retreat’s location all comes down to competition. “I do think The Retreat was built beside Wolf Creek intentionally because of capitalism,” he said. “It’s all about competition and The Retreat seemed to offer more amenities but at a higher cost.”
Though some have deemed the migration of white students from Wolf Creek to The Retreat, white flight, it appears that it may instead simply be enjoying the perks of a more disposable income.