Saint Mary’s new residency policy threatens enrollment
Maggie Oldham | Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The new residency requirement for Saint Mary’s students that was decided upon without diverse input from students and faculty will be disastrous to the future of the college. President Carol Ann Mooney has said that the college is currently facing an enrollment crisis and has set the goal to increase enrollment by 15 percent with the Class of 2011. Unfortunately, I strongly believe this new residency requirement will drop the number of applicants to an all-time low. Had student input been gathered on this issue, such a decision would have never been made.
Karen Johnson, vice president of student affairs at the college, said that current students were not consulted because the requirement would not affect them. Current students should have been asked for advice because current students are the most knowledgeable about the wants and needs of prospective students having been there just months ago.
When high school seniors are making a college decision, they look at a number of factors, with student life being of great importance. When students enroll at Saint Mary’s and see that dorm living is the norm for three years, many choose to follow this path of on campus residency. However, without this knowledge of the norm, high school seniors will not choose a campus that requires them to stay on campus for three years over a college that does not.
The trend among American college students is to move off campus and Saint Mary’s should not go against this. More students want to live off campus than on campus and if a college denies students of this right, prospective students will seek an education elsewhere. Applicants to Saint Mary’s will drop with the consequence of an even further decline in enrollment. Furthermore, this is creating an identity for the college that is similar to a girls’ boarding school, not an open-minded, progressive women’s college.
Johnson stated the single positive attribute of the requirement when she said, “Students who live on campus have been shown to be more successful – both academically and co-curriculary.” However, it should be up to the students and their parents – not administrators – to decide whether or not they should stay on campus for personal development. I would encourage administrators to reconsider how prospective students will perceive this residency requirement before there aren’t any students to fill the residence halls at all.