Column: On-campus housing requirements need to change

Lashana Harney

I remember move in day.

I was excited—the typical freshman yearning for that taste of freedom and adult-like responsibility. I looked around my dorm room, made my bed and settled in. Two weeks later, I was ready to move out.

Dorm life is not for me. I would much rather have an apartment to go back to after a long day of classes and work, but I can’t just yet: I’m an upcoming sophomore.

I just sipped the taste of freedom I yearned for as a dorm resident. We still have dorm policies to abide by, such as visitation policies for guests and quiet hours.

While I understand the need for certain policies, I would much rather take on the responsibility of renting an apartment or house where I have my own room, my own bathroom and for the most part, my own rules.

College is meant to give students more freedom and responsibility, but for the first two years students are dictated where to live and required to stay on campus freshman and sophomore years. This takes away from the concept of freedom.

However, there are some exemptions to this rule. According to WKU’s Housing Policy and Exemptions web page, the following can bypass living on campus for the first two years: 

·Veterans of military service (181 days or more)

· Married

· The primary caregiver for dependent children

· 21 years of age or older

· Members of fraternities or sororities living in the chapter house (sophomores only)

· Commuting from their parents’ permanent home and primary residence (50 miles or less).

Most students don’t fit the criteria and are stuck on campus. The dorms may be a step up from living with parents, but the dorms are anything but exemplary. 

Not to mention, if a student wants to pursue financial freedom and responsibility, we’re punished for it. If a student chooses to ignore the exemptions and decides to live off-campus anyway, they must pay a $1,000 per semester fee. A student can request special circumstances in order to be exempted from the policy, but average, ordinary folk, like me, don’t tend to have a reason other than disliking living on campus.

Students want to live off campus simply because it’s more affordable and more suitable than most dorms. 

Forcing students to live on campus may be a ploy to squeeze every penny out of students and plunge us further into a debt or a way to increase retention rates, but whatever the case may be, some students aren’t happy with the policy. 

It needs to change, and we need to be given the option to live off campus all four years. Or, if the university is intent on imprisoning students, perhaps it should consider making our housing arrangements better. 

We have dorms with mold, multiple instances of flooding and two-day long electrical outages. I’m forking out around $4,000 to live here— at least give us quality. 

Another option is to follow the example of the Ohio State University. According to the school’s newspaper “The Lantern,” the university is introducing a pilot program to require sophomores to live on campus, but with a potential reprieve. In the article, “Ohio State on-campus living requirement elicits mixed responses,” it states that “Students who complete the pilot program will be eligible to receive a $2,000 fellowship to use toward educational opportunities.” I might be a little less bitter if I received a stipend to accommodate for the overheated dorm rooms and germ-ridden community bathrooms. 

The housing requirement is an infringement on our adulthood. It’s our money; we should choose where to spend it.