My time at The Grove

Lee Elliott posing by a trashy dumpster at The Grove apartments
Lee Elliott posing by a trashy dumpster at The Grove apartments. Photo by John Mallow.

Getting ready to transfer to UNCA as a 27-year-old non traditional student, I was most nervous about finding a place to live.
I really did not want to live with freshmen who would pester me to buy them beer, but all the other places I could find were in sketchy neighborhoods or would have involved living with drug-addled miscreants bent on solving world hunger with dubious mathematical formulas.
As my moving date drew nearer, I still had not found a place to lay my head, and thus I came to transfer student orientation essentially homeless.
During one of the session breaks, I wandered aimlessly through the housing fair, finding all the student complexes to be out of my price range, except one. That’s where The Grove came into the picture.
Drawn in by the promise of affordable housing within walking distance to campus, I jumped on the opportunity and signed a lease that day, without talking to anyone with knowledge of The Grove, and trusting the complex staff to pair me up with roommates.
On my way back down the mountain, I excitedly called my friend Peter, a UNCA alumnus, and told him I found housing. His response was almost crushing.
He told me about the shooting that took place the previous year, multiple armed robberies, drug overdoses, and an excessive underage party scene that sparked police response most every night. Shaken, but legally bound through my lease agreement, I moved in later that summer, unsure of what I was getting myself into.
Now six months into my lease at The Grove, I have mixed feelings but I would have to say most of the rumors about this place were just that– rumors.
The roommates I was paired up with have been excellent, and my neighbors are great.
I have not seen or heard of any roving gunmen robbing the tenants, nor have I seen more parties than your average student housing complex. People are mostly chilled out on the weekdays, and I do not have problems getting rest despite the paper-thin walls that let in any outside loud noises.
The most disappointing thing about The Grove is the rampant litter. It is all over my building and the complex in general.
The other day when my younger brother visited, I took him on a tour of the complex and we played some video games in the clubhouse. On our walk up the stairs to my fourth floor apartment, we counted 52 cigarette butts, a six-pack of empty beer bottles, two 40 ounce plastic malt liquor bottles, and a random half eaten chicken wing.
The litter is not solely created by the tenants either, as the year has gone on, the apartment staff have plastered our doors with countless reminders to renew our leases. These flyers largely end up detaching themselves from their respective doors and lying crumpled all over the buildings.
What’s the most funny to me is the facial expression many students have when I tell them I live in the Grove. It can be described as pity mixed with mild disgust and it is always accompanied with an “I’m sorry” or a guttural sad grunt.
At the end of the day, is The Grove a community centered around intentional living? No.
Is it as bad as the rumors bandied around campus? No.
Do I regret my time here? No.
Will I be living here next semester? No.