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New housing policy problematic

Staff Editorial | Friday, March 2, 2007

No one likes being told how to live his or her life – especially during the four fleeting college years geared largely toward self-discovery.

So the Saint Mary’s administration’s recent decision to require incoming students to live on campus for six semesters will undoubtedly create problems for the entire College community.

For an institution that boasts 81 percent of its 1,500 students living on campus, the need to implement such restrictions has confused much of the community.

Administrators said the requirement will help fulfill the College’s mission statement as well as increase students’ academic engagement.

But that logic is faulty. While students on campus are physically closer to academic resources, the decision to be motivated belongs to the student alone. There are pressures to procrastinate, party and skip class both in LeMans Hall and at Lafayette Apartments.

Furthermore, the College’s decision to implement the requirement without student input threatens the relationship between students and administrators.

The Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees includes a student member and places students on faculty hiring committees, but has failed to include valuable student input where it counts.

College President Carol Ann Mooney said she wants to increase enrollment by 15 percent with the incoming Class of 2011. While Saint Mary’s officials said this six-semester residency requirement will not affect the admissions yield, they might be in for a surprise.

When current students care enough to protest a decision that does not directly affect them, the uproar is a strong indication of problems on the horizon, and students are the strongest opponents or advocates of campus policy.

Most Saint Mary’s students are highly satisfied with campus life, but that appreciation will dwindle when the new requirement becomes practice. Mandatory on-campus student residency may further fulfill Saint Mary’s mission statement, but forcing housing choices will frustrate students and scare off some top applicants. The reasoning behind the requirement does not take into account the needs and wants of the student body, but erases one of the few elements of choice that remains in the College’s already conservative residency rules.

Saint Mary’s must further examine the potential implications of the residency requirement and consider who will really benefit from the change – students, or administrators.