Editorial Board

Syracuse University’s idea of a 3-year on-campus housing requirement is not in the best interest of students

Rachel Gilbert | Development Editor

A three-year on-campus housing requirement would weaken students' relationship with the city, The Daily Orange Editorial Board argues.

Syracuse University’s three-year on-campus housing requirement may only so far be an idea, but the information that’s being used as a basis for that idea to become policy must be re-evaluated. Undergraduate students should not be restricted in their independence by being forced to live on campus for 75 percent of their time in college.

Kevin Quinn, senior vice president of public affairs at SU, said there is research that suggests students who live in on-campus housing are more engaged in campus social life and are more satisfied with their overall university experience, in addition to performing better academically. But SU should be careful to assume that correlation equals causation in this case.

Most students who live on campus are freshmen and sophomores, and underclassmen tend to be part of more campus organizations because they readily explore new opportunities and aspects of campus to make friends. Upperclassmen, who currently have the option to live off-campus after their second year at SU, usually have found a more specific organization on campus that they thrive in and devote time to.

Some students who live off-campus are also in closer proximity to the hubs of campus, like the Quad and the University Place promenade, than students who live on campus in remote residence halls or in South Campus apartments. SU officials have discussed the goal to integrate South Campus housing into Main Campus. But if these plans are made under the assumption that students who live away from campus are less engaged in campus life, the interpretation of what constitutes engagement must be broadened.

Living off-campus promotes independence, an attribute that’s important for every college student to acquire. Many students who live off-campus also have cars, and are therefore more likely to engage in the city of Syracuse and its surrounding communities.

SU officials have continuously discussed the importance of strengthening the connection between the university and the city, but a three-year on-campus housing requirement would mean that students would be less likely to have cars and thus wouldn’t be able to get out into the city to interact with local businesses as readily as off-campus students do. This requirement would hinder the relationship university officials have been supposedly trying to build.

If SU wants to keep more students on campus and increase its room and board revenue, it should stick to its current two-year on-campus housing requirement and extend its housing guarantee, which right now is only two years — a policy change that is most in line with students’ interests.

The freedom to make independent decisions is of the utmost importance for college students. Students learn the meaning of self-sufficiency when they live on their own for the first time, away from the control of their families and their university.

SU should not compromise students’ choice to live off-campus, and a three-year on-campus housing requirement would do just that.

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