Group explores students’ off-campus movement
CAROLYN HUTYRA | Monday, October 1, 2012
At its Friday meeting, Campus Life Council (CLC) focused on residence life and factors contributing to an increasing number of students moving off campus.
Student government chief of staff Katie Baker said some reasons students move off campus are to obtain freedom, privacy and more space for less money.
Currently, 17 percent of undergraduate students do not live on campus, and this is a linear trend over the past five years according to student body president Brett Rocheleau. He said the current senior class is an outlier with fewer students living off-campus than in past years.
Even though the majority of students off-campus are male, a sizable percentage of female students live off-campus. Baker said the lower percentage for the latter category is in part due to safety concerns with some housing locations in the South Bend area.
CLC addressed the issue of increasing numbers of juniors and even sophomores leaving the residence halls.
One strong driving factor is cost. According to its online admissions website, the University charges $11, 934 for room and board. This does include a meal plan.
In recent years, real estate agents have targeted sophomores to sign housing contracts for their senior year. This can be difficult since relationships between students change over time, and they may not want the same living arrangements two years down the road, Howard Hall rector Margaret Morgan said. Cindy Broderick, rector of Pasquerilla East, said students do not believe they can find adequate housing if they wait until their senior year. She said she tries to tell the girls to wait, but oftentimes they feel the pressure to sign contracts early on.
CLC also discussed dorm rules and a lack of a feeling of community as additional causes of the off-campus movement of an increasing number of students.
Even with the number of students leaving the dorms, the University is still dealing with the issue of overcrowding. In a number of residence halls, the study rooms have been converted into living spaces, Walsh Hall senator Veronica Guerrero said. Furthermore, when students return from studying abroad, they often cannot return to their original residence hall.
“There should be a downgrading of the number of students,” Guerrero said.
She said it is easier to bond in the dorms when there are a smaller number of girls in an incoming class. This way, everyone gets to know each other better, she said.
A point stressed at the meeting was the strength of the residence halls and their spirit of community.
Oftentimes, when seniors move off campus they return to their original dorms in order to partake in the activities from dorm dances to movie nights.
The halls do not want to lose that connection with their students.
“[Dorm life] is a part of the intangible Notre Dame experience,” Walsh Hall rector Annie Selak said.
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