Benefits of required on-campus housing do not outweigh the cost

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Most sophomores at UW Oshkosh are forced into living in on-campus housing for a full year. This means that they are paying at least an additional $4,220 in housing alone, not including the required meal plan.

Director of Residence Life Tom Fojtik said this policy has been in place at UWO for 40 years, and was initially created by the Board of Regents.

In order to live off campus, a student must be married, be at least 21 years old, have earned 48 credits or have lived in a residence hall for four semesters.

Fojtik said the marriage exemption and age exemption are the oldest exemptions and originated when the Board of Regents first created this housing policy.

“The [other] two [exemptions] reflect an adjustment we made in light of students tending to take fewer credits per semester than they did 10 or 15 years ago,” Fojtik said.

Since a majority of sophomores are required to live on campus, the average Wisconsin resident sophomore will pay around $15,230 for a year of schooling at UWO.

However, it is unreasonable to make a student live on campus two years in a row.

A freshman housing requirement is reasonable, as it teaches independence without giving too much. It helps students with the adjustment process that comes with starting college and provides them with 24-hour resources, but one year is enough.

“We believe a student living on campus is more likely to be engaged in campus life, which will help them be a more successful student and community member,” Fojtik said.

Making a 20-year-old student follow the strict rules of the dorms is almost demeaning. It is understandable to force quiet hours and guest rules upon a freshman, but sophomores are often rolling their eyes at the childish rules placed on them and are counting down the days until they can move out into their own house or apartment.

There is the option of living in Horizon Village when students want a bit more independence that doesn’t come with the other residence halls, but only if they want to pay $6,120 for a year of living there. This equates to about $512 per month.

The amount of money students are already wasting on a second year of on-campus living is too much, let alone adding that extra money on just to get their own bathroom and kitchen.

Most houses around the UWO campus have a monthly rent averaging around $370 per person, which varies depending on how many roommates they have and whether or not utilities are included.

This would add up to about $4,440 for an entire 12 months of rent; but that’s three more months than on-campus housing gets you, which is beneficial for a lot of students who want to live in Oshkosh during the summer for internships and jobs.

Also, off-campus housing doesn’t come with the expense of a required meal plan like residence halls do.

Students are contracted into paying at least $2,810 for meals that often go to waste due to lack of time or conflicts with dining hours. This amounts to $7,030 for the full year of housing plus meals, which is an additional $2,810 compared to off-campus housing.

While a house off campus doesn’t come with 15 meals each week, that extra $2,590 can go towards groceries that students actually have time to and want to eat.

Requiring two full years of on-campus housing is simply unnecessary. While there are ways to get around it, most students don’t fit the criteria.

Fojtik said this policy has been reconsidered over the years, but so far no major changes have been made.

“We have twice asked working groups to review this policy and make recommendations for the future and both committees recommended we keep the policy for now,” Fojtik said.

UWO needs to further reconsider this policy. While there are benefits to students, the cost simply outweighs them.

Off-campus students are still plenty involved with UWO’s campus, as housing is not far at all.

The requirement for sophomores to live on the UWO campus should be lifted so students can make the most cost-effective decisions during their time here.