On March 12, 2018, student life sent out an email to all students announcing their updated restriction on off-campus housing.
I strongly disagree with their change of policy.
In the email, Laura Zirkle, vice president for Student Life, stated in bold, “Only students granted an exemption will be permitted to live off campus.”
While this is the current policy, Dr. Zirkle continues, “fewer exemptions will be granted and priority for off-campus will be given to those entering their senior year” and “our ultimate goal is to house all of our undergraduate students on campus.”
To me, this change is nothing but an obvious money grab at the already debt-stricken students.
I am currently a freshman living in Warde with one roommate. This costs about $4,000 per semester with the forced unlimited meal plan of approximately $3,000 per semester.
These two costs come up to about $7,000 per semester.
With living expenses this high, I could rent a house close to Mercyhurst by myself and still be saving money.
Continuing down the email, Zirkle mentions, “Studies have shown that students who live on campus are more likely to succeed academically and to have a more diverse and robust college experience.”
After a quick Google search of “studies to show that it’s better to live on campus,” the top four results only specify freshmen and not the entire student body.
In addition, the top study by Penn State University explains that those who choose to stay on campus are in better financial situations and that there is correlation between financial situation and higher academic performance.
Furthermore, the comparison of academic performance is often between the on-campus freshmen vs. off-campus upperclassmen.
This is wildly unfair due to different levels of classes and responsibilities each group has.
However, this isn’t the last problem the policy change has.
In the email, Zirkle lists the benefits of living on campus: “(This is to) foster collaboration and to promote a sense of community … safer environment.”
College is supposed to be a testing water for adult life and responsibilities; each year you are going deeper into the pool of reality and adulthood.
A vital step in the path to adulthood is living off campus in a free and independent environment.
So, when Mercyhurst set its sights on this new goal, this to me, is nothing but a way of limiting the experience and freedom one has in their journey to adulthood.
The difference between the houses across 38th or up Wayne, and those on Lewis, is not that one is any more connected to campus than the other; the difference is that the houses on Lewis are owned by Mercyhurst.
And so those in Lewis housing are somehow more connected?
To force one to be part of a community only fosters a fake and shallow relationship.
Once we are done with college, what then?
The false sense of security will fall, and the harsh realities will set in.
The reality is that not everything will be safe and inclusive. Part of life is coming to terms with that fact and adapting to overcome it.