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Gap Smaller Between Downtown and USC, but Students Still Missing the Boat

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, October 12, 2006, at 05:26PM

The LA Times today runs a piece by Cara Mia DiMassa and David Pierson on the closing gap between USC and Downtown. In particular it looks at how development is starting to fill in the Figueroa Corridor and how many students now live in Downtown. They don't always find it to their liking:

Two years ago, USC student Matthew Kurtin decided that he wanted a change -- something a little more vibrant than the campus housing where he'd lived his first year at the university.

So he moved into the heart of downtown, to the historic Gas Co. loft building at 8th and Flower streets.

"I thought it would be cool to live downtown," said Kurtin, a Toronto native and a student of cinema and business administration.

But Kurtin, 21, said he quickly found it lonely living downtown. The neighborhood had a sprinkling of USC students, but there was no critical mass. Most of the parties were on campus, and Kurtin found it hard to get from his apartment to campus and back. Once his lease was up, Kurtin moved in with two friends on campus.

Randomly, I happen to know Matt from the USC waterski team. I think his case clearly illustrates what I see as the problem for many USC students Downtown: they want to live campus life and Downtown is the real world.

Matt and I moved Downtown at roughly similar times, though we didn't know each other until that fall (I don't think). So why have our experiences of Downtown been so different?

When I moved Downtown I was over the campus scene. I wasn't the one going to parties on campus. Even when I lived around the school my first choice for something to do would be to head elsewhere. I had barely set foot in a gallery before coming Downtown, but once I was here I became fascinated with Gallery Row and the scene around it. I got involved in DLANC. I made friends who lived, worked or were involved Downtown.

I feel strongly that USC students who live Downtown but don't connect to all it has to offer are missing out on an amazing opportunity. If only they realized how easy it is to get involved and get plugged into all that's happening. Then perhaps they wouldn't be as drawn back to campus for parties that really aren't all that exciting.

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