A new housing policy change could require up to 80 students to move back on campus next fall.
“Essentially, we’ve been at a freshman/sophomore live-in requirement, and we’re going to be moving to a freshman/sophomore/junior live-in [requirement],” Vice President for Student Life Brenda Roth said.
According to the new policy, students who wish to live off campus must be traditional undergraduate students who meet at least one of the following conditions:
- The student will turn 21 before the upcoming semester (by the first day of class, instead of anytime during the semester).
- The student will achieve senior status before the beginning of the semester (instead of junior status).
- The student is married.
- The student is living at no cost with a relative over the age of 21.
The new housing policy could potentially require 60-80 students to move on campus, assuming they are single and/or do not live at home with a relative over the age of 21.
Although Student Life makes housing policy changes every year based on enrollment trends, many have gone mostly unnoticed as students have previously been encouraged to move off campus to create more room in the residence halls. This new housing policy will “pull more people back on campus,” according to Roth – and it will certainly impact students.
“Nationwide, enrollment numbers are low,” she said. “Like a lot of institutions, we’re seeing some drops in enrollment. We are not full this year, and if we continue with our current housing policy, we won’t be full next year.”
Corban’s residence halls are designed to house 555 students. At the end of the Fall 2017 semester, occupancy was 529. Now, at the beginning of Spring 2018, occupancy is around 517.
Maintaining a unique campus culture is one of the reasons for the policy change.
“Our campus culture is engaged,” Roth said. “Commuter students contribute to that, but resident students have built-in advantages to contribute and benefit from.”
The second reason is stewardship.
“We have a responsibility to steward our physical resources,” Roth said. “We have facilities that house 555; we need to steward that.”
It’s also a financial issue; Corban’s annual budget relies on full occupancy.
“There’s a number of services that actually receive funding from room and board revenue,” she said. “As that room and board revenue decreases, it will – and does – have an impact. We can’t offer everything we offer in the same way when that revenue is lower.”
Programs or services that may be negatively affected by lower residential counts include the following:
- Resident Life
- Campus Safety
- Counseling Services
- Dining Services
Other programs that may be affected are student journalism, student growth activities, and creative outlets such as The Barn.
By studying enrollment trends, this policy is based on a prediction for September, 2018.
“Ideally, we’d make this decision in September,” Roth said, “but people make housing commitments [by then]. We would have made a housing policy change in January, because we’re under capacity right now, but you can’t make a housing policy change in the middle of the year.”
In the upcoming weeks, students will complete housing intention surveys, townhouse applications, and RA applications. By May 1, students will make housing commitments for the 2018-2019 academic year.
“We’re trying to get the word out,” Nathan Geer, Dean of Students, said.
Student Life acknowledged it will be difficult for some people on campus to receive the change.
“We’re in conversation with ASB, and we’ll be meeting with the Senate, just to make sure that student voices really have a chance,” Geer said.
Roth hopes to host a Q&A on the subject in February so students can have an opportunity to learn more about the change and how it affects them.