Changes come to Blue Square following change of ownership

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When Utah State University purchased Blue Square in 2016, residents feared changes to their “luxury-style housing.”

Students were originally drawn to the complex for its amenities, which include walk-in closets, a hot tub, and the option of private bedrooms.

According to Steve Jenson, the executive director of housing and residence life at USU, the university sought to purchase Blue Square because they believed it to be “an important purchase for the university.” Jenson cited Blue Square’s proximity to Maverik Stadium and other surrounding campus properties as a key reason for the purchase.

Though many elements of Blue Square have remained intact since the university’s purchase, some believe things have changed, for better and for worse.

Since its opening in 2012, Blue Square has received generally positive reviews on its social media pages such as Facebook, with a few exceptions.

Former resident Fernanda Celestino said she enjoyed the atmosphere and staff.

Riggin Marriott, another former resident, said, “I love Blue Square, it is a great environment for students.” He said the environment is very social, especially around the hot tub.

A common complaint about Blue Square under its previous ownership was the cost of parking.

Former resident Brandon Terry said, “Parking is sort of a hassle unless you are willing to drop $200.”

The university has updated Internet services, improved security measures, lowered parking costs and made plans to add over a hundred new parking stalls. Residents also have the luxury of rolling out of bed ten minutes before class, as there is now an Aggie Shuttle stop in front of the complex. All these changes, Jenson hopes, will “better meet student needs.”

Blue Square is no stranger to large parties and underage drinking. In fact, in 2015, Blue Square partied harder than any of its neighbors. According to a Utah Statesman article from January 2016, police responded to 57 complaints of partying at Blue Square in 2015. The number of arrests was about the same as other communities, but Logan Police Department captain Tyson Budge said there were “bigger parties with more participants.”

The apartment complex’s party animal reputation is a nuisance to many residents.

Rachel Jones lived in Blue Square from August 2015 to May 2016. She also said there was excessive partying at the apartment complex, which got particularly out of hand after football games.

“There would be loud music and the next day I’d leave my apartment and would find red Solo cups and beer everywhere,” Jones said.

Regarding how USU has changed Blue Square’s conduct policies, Jenson said “some changes have been made to bring it into alignment with USU student code.”

Following suit with other on-campus housing units, the university introduced resident assistants, or RAs, to Blue Square. RAs have the responsibility to monitor, control and report activities like drug and alcohol use, as well as disruptive partying. They also provide support for students and ensure their well-being.

Reportedly, the complex’s six RAs may not be getting the job done.

A chief complaint several Blue Square residents had was the lack of communication between RAs and residents.

One such resident, freshman Emily Skinner, said she has only seen her RA once this school year. She said there was a drinking and partying problem on her floor last semester, but it has died down this semester, which she attributed to her RA.

Another Blue Square resident, freshman Brinley Adams, also said she has only seen her RA on one occasion. Though Adams said the lack of communication is frustrating, she is glad the RAs give the residents some breathing room.

Lydia Ingram, another Blue Square resident, said she overall enjoys living in the apartments because of the location and room quality. The maintenance staff, she said, is “beyond wonderful” and very responsive. She shared similar frustrations regarding RAs. Ingram said she has only seen her RA once this semester despite living next door to her. She also said she has made multiple attempts to email her RA, and has only received a reply once this semester.

Since USU purchased the property, there has been some speculation regarding the fate of the Bull’s Head Grille, which is located in the complex. Since the restaurant serves alcohol and USU is a dry campus, the university is in a tough spot.

Jenson said the university will honor the restaurant’s contract with Blue Square’s previous owners, allowing Bull’s Head Grille to serve alcohol.

The contract expires in 2020, at which point Jenson said “the parties will have additional discussions.”

Despite changes at Blue Square, the apartment complex remains a popular housing choice. Currently there are no vacancies for the 2017-2018 school year.

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@melodyj300

Photos by Megan Albrechtsen