The Readers Respond: Housing woes

Dear Editor,

In the last issue of the Waltonian, one of the front-page articles addressed the issue of mandatory on-campus living for students. This may seem like a good idea at first, but I personally do not think it is going to work. There are many issues that are not brought up regarding the reasons students choose to commute to Eastern.

One of the first issues the article failed to address is the “nontraditional freshman.” Not all students who attend Eastern are the traditional, “just graduated from high school” first-year students.

Many students go back to college after being out of the educational system for many years. Those who have taken time off before deciding to attend college may be several years older than the traditional first-year and will be forced to live with these students in the same dorms.

Another issue that the article failed to address is the number of students who commute to Eastern who are living at home. Many students who live in the area chose to live at home to cut down on the expenses of campus living. With the fee for room and board increasing on a yearly basis, it is more cost efficient if students living in the area are able to commute.

Lets face it, not all of us have the resources to afford living on campus.

The scholarships students receive are only applied to tuition, not room and board. Once tuition is paid, the money the student has earned disappears into the system. I have known many students who have had adequate financial aid packages to cover both tuition and room and board, but not all of their aid is applied to the full fee that Eastern charges.

Before this requirement can be put in place, the administration should take into account the many issues that influence students to live off campus. Give students the entire amount of money they have earned instead of only the part that covers tuition so that they can afford to live on campus.

Let the students have the choice of where they are going to live instead of putting more rules and regulations on them. If there is a reason more students are choosing to commute rather than living on campus, find out what this reason is and address that issue instead of making this kind of requirement for everyone.

As a commuter, I have found that living off campus is very beneficial. I have the freedom to come and go as I please. I have the ability to choose my meals, meal times and nutritional intake.

I am not oppressed by the schedule and bad food that Sodexho has to offer. Since living off campus, my sleep patterns and work habits have improved because I do not have the distraction of hall mates at all hours of the day and night.

As a senior, I think living off campus is beneficial. This experience gives me a chance to evaluate what it is going to be like after I graduate. I have had to manage my budget for rent, food and utilities. If anything, opportunities should be provided to offer the experience of living on one’s own instead of in an institutional environment.

Dawn Allen

Editor-in-Chief Ben Carr responds:

The fact that on-campus housing will be mandatory at Eastern in the near future has students concerned. Compared with the freedom current students enjoy – as commuters or potential commuters – it seems like a reversion to the heavy restrictions one can find at many other Christian colleges. But the change will not make as much of a difference as it appears at first glance.

Let’s look at how this is actually going to work. First, no current student will ever be forced to stay on campus, much less to move back on campus. This is not going to directly affect the people reading this paper now, unless they are prospective students.

Second, there will be lots of exemptions. Traditionally, students living at home have been allowed to commute; so have married students and those over a certain age.

The administration will need to make a few of these or similar exemptions. Once Pennswood closes, this new dorm will mean an increase of only about 120 beds. That means 120 more students on campus.

We have some 500 commuters. Unless we lose a lot of students, commuting will have to remain an option for hundreds of people.

Third, the restriction is not going to last very long. There are almost exactly the right number of rooms on campus now for the number who choose to be here; assuming that the student body grows, that will become the case again within a couple of years.

Just do the math. With a 2:1 ratio of on-campus and commuting students right now, we can guess that that’s the rate at which people choose to live off campus. To fill 120 more beds with people who want to sleep in them, we just need an increase of 180 students.

At the rate Eastern has been growing, it will only take around three years for that to happen. That means that some people who come in as first-year students, the first class officially required to live on campus for all four years, will be able to commute before they graduate, just to make space for the new first-years.

The rules will have to be relaxed.

The rule change coming next year is likely to inconvenience a few people for a little while. But it’s not the end of the world as we know it, and it will not change the shape of the Eastern population.

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