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Opinion Housing plans crucial for freshmen

Housing plans crucial for freshmen

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Dorm life is essential to college experience 

|Mary Sergeant

Many incoming students and current freshmen are beginning to wonder if they should be required to live on campus.

Currently, the only students required to live on campus are freshmen who have received competitive scholarships or who have been admitted to the Honors College. Regardless, the majority of the university’s freshmen choose to live on campus.

Personally, I am a huge advocate for living on campus, especially during a student’s first year at USM.  Taking into account price, regulations by residence life and other factors associated with on-campus living, I would never trade my freshman living experience for anything.

For one, living on campus helps freshman students get plugged into all of the events on campus.  Throughout the residence halls, signs and notices let students know when and where events happen and how to get involved with different organizations.  Plus, students are more eager to go to those events and attend those meetings when they are a hop, skip and jump away.

Also, if on-campus students think parking on campus is hard for them, they have never experienced the struggle that commuters feel.  As a senior, this is my first year living off campus.   I live near Hillcrest Residence Hall, and it still takes me over 10 to 15 minutes to get to campus, park the car and walk to class.  

When I lived at Century Park freshman year, I could get to the Liberal Arts Building in eight minutes at a quick-paced speed and 12 at a leisurely walk.  Walking to class can get hot, but it’s a lot faster than searching for a parking spot.  Not to mention, walking is a lot healthier for the environment and your body.

Lastly, there is nothing better than waking up to hear the excitement of game day on campus.   You can hear the music, smell the food and feel the spirit right from the comfort of your own bed.  Some of my best memories from freshman year were Saturday game days. 

All of my friends would gather and get ready together because we lived so close.  We would trade clothes, shoes and other accessories.  This was back when you could never wear a game day outfit twice. 

Then, decked out in black and gold, we would march toward campus, through the Eagle Walk and into the District.  I think every freshman student should have experiences like that.

As for me, I think that freshmen on scholarships should still be required to live on campus and that the university should still encourage new students to reside in on-campus housing.  It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity every student, new and old, should experience at one point in time.

Century Park North is home to approximately 800 students, 500 of which are freshmen. Students that elect to live on campus cite convenience and community as their reasoning. -Jesisca King
Century Park North is home to approximately 800 students, 500 of which are freshmen. Students that elect to live on campus cite convenience and community as their reasoning. -Jesisca King

Living on campus is not an option for some

|Mary Beth Wolverton

While living on campus has the potential to benefit students, it is not a guarantee that these benefits will be received. Living on campus can inconvenience students, leading to increased debt and overall dissatisfaction among students – a perfect combination to lower the retention rate.

Having a requirement that students on scholarship must live on campus is simply impractical unless the school is paying for that student. Many students take out piles of loans simply to get an education, and the cost of living at The University of Southern Mississippi, including boarding and the required meal plan, is equal to or greater than the cost of tuition for many students.

Freshman housing at Southern Miss ranges from $1,990 (about $400 per month) to live in the Quad, to $3,050 ($610 per month) to live in the Century Park dorms, according to the University’s website.

Food will set an on-campus student back another $1,497-$1,797 per semester. With the most basic meal plan in the cheapest dorm, a student will pay $3,487, which is $3 less than the cost of in-state tuition for that semester.

Skye Gravenstuk, a senior communications major, lived on campus her freshman year, but was ready to move off after a year. 

“Once I moved off campus, I had a lot more lee-way financially, even while living in a very nice apartment,” Gravenstuk said. “It was much cheaper to live off-campus and cook for myself than to live on campus. I spend maybe $50 on groceries a month compared to being charged $1,500 a semester.”

When cheaper options are available, students should be allowed to take advantage of these options and live off campus, especially when the cost of living on campus is so high.

The freshman dorm experience also cannot promise the benefits its proponents boast. In my freshman dorm, doors were always shut, and I knew two girls on my hall, the ones who lived directly across from me.

If I had not found other ways to get involved and meet people on campus, I would not have had a very good experience. Dorm living cannot promise students a better college experience.

With students unable to pay for housing and not receiving the so-called benefits of dorm life, it is simply unreasonable to force first-year students to live on campus. Jonathan Bridenbaker, a freshman public relations and journalism major, finds the dorms convenient, but also notes problems in the dorms. 

“(Freshmen) generally are very loud and like to pull pranks on each other,” he said. “Small stuff like shutting off the lights in the shower room, but that’s
freshman dorm specific.”

While some freshmen enjoy their dorm experience, it simply is not practical  or affordable for others.

Mary Sergeant
Writer and Photographer for the Student Printz at the University of Southern Mississippi

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