Mandatory on-campus living coming for new students, due to new dorm, lots of commuters

Starting in the fall of 2006, incoming students will again be expected to spend their entire college careers living on campus.

For current students, the policy regarding off-campus living will remain the same, said Bettie Ann Brigham, vice president of student development. At the same time, there will be exceptions granted for some incoming students.

The requirement is coming because commuting has become increasingly popular, while on-campus space is no longer filled, she said.

As a result, commuter parking has become extremely crowded, and Eastern could have trouble filling the 160 beds in the new residence hall expected to be completed for the fall of 2007.

“I’m taking a big risk, hoping it all works out,” Brigham said. “We need to have that hall filled.”

The requirement is not innovation, but a return to the norm, Brigham said.

“We’ve only had about eight years when we said you don’t have to live on campus” out of the last 30, she said.

The long-term plan has always been for Eastern to be primarily a residential campus, Brigham said. The recent trend toward commuting has occurred because the school has not had the money to build enough residence halls to keep up with enrollment.

When the new residence opens in 2007, Eastern will stop renting part of Pennswood Hall from Harcum College in Bryn Mawr. Currently, Eastern students occupy 42 spaces there.

There are currently 1,050 beds on campus, and about 500 students commute. Even with the new dorm, there would not be enough space for all Eastern students on campus.

This means that the requirement will quickly be eased in the years after it is implemented, although it will probably remain officially on the books, Brigham said.

That situation will remain until another residence hall is built and Eastern needs to fill it, starting the cycle over again, she said.

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