On-campus housing: Community or money trap?

Story by Lila Letica, Reporter

Photo courtesy pexels.com

It’s no secret that Aquinas has one of the longest live on campus requirements for students. Most Michigan colleges have a one year requirement or have no requirement at all. The only others that come close to Aquinas’s three year policy are MSU’s recently re-instated two year policy and Alma’s astounding four year policy. It makes you think about the statement colleges make by having longer requirements. 

The websites of colleges that have longer policies talk about community and how living on campus contributes to that community. “Community” is one of Aquinas’s four pillars that we all took an oath to uphold our freshman year. Our Residence Life team has been doing the most to contribute to the community during this time. Their small team of four professional staff plus all of their RAs are in charge of delivering meals, enforcing important COVID policies, and working hard to make programming/events remain alive during these difficult times. 

These aspects of community–attending games, participating in trivia nights, events at the Moose–are something we see less and less now. It seems that now more than ever we should be participating in the community to keep that part of our humanity alive. Without a spring break, students are still trudging through Zoom classes and what seems like endless homework. However, is on campus living the correct way to promote this?

Students are financially strapped. If it wasn’t hard enough to work during the school year for tuition money or stress about student loans before, now we are doing so during a pandemic. We already pay thousands of dollars to a private institution that is going to continuously ask us for money even as we graduate and become alumni.

Living off campus gives students a physical break from the overwhelming academic world. We are given more freedom to choose who we live with and we aren’t stressed about the limited housing spaces that have kitchens on campus. We are able to take breaks, cook our own food, and do laundry in our own homes. These little things may seem small but they are big in terms of keeping up with mental health.

To students now, having a three year living requirement seems more about the money trap than the “community” that it promotes. We hear our professors constantly supporting us during these times: Let me know if you need anything. My email is always open. My office hours are… But where is the support from our administration regarding our finances? We get email after email thanking us for our “flexibility” in regards to numerous policy changes. But when will our flexibility finally lead to policy changes that benefit us financially?

Maybe it’s time the administration take a step back and have an open discussion about how they can best support the students during this time. One of the ways being that off campus housing would be more affordable and, for some, better for their mental health.

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