By: Kathryn Peterson, For The Clock
As of two years ago, Plymouth State University put out a statement saying that in order to live off campus, students must either have 64 credits or be at least 21 before September 1st. Prior to the change, the only requirement was for students to live on campus for the first two academic school years. Students this year were hopeful to be able to go back to the original living requirements, as dorm life is not ideal during a pandemic. This has ultimately affected a lot of students coming back to the Plymouth State campus.
Vice President for Finance and Administration, Tracy Claybaugh, and Director of Residential Life and Dining Services, Amanda Grazioso, were able to explain more on the policy changes. Amanda stated “each year we review a number of factors in order to determine the ‘live-off eligibility requirements’ which include: 1) current student population including retention data, 2) incoming student projections, and 3) programmatic strategies.”
As stated in an article back in 2019, PSU believes there is significant educational value from the experience offered to students living in the residence halls. In keeping up with this belief, all full-time matriculated students are required to live on campus if space is available. This policy is reviewed annually and adjusted in order to best meet the needs of the campus and community at large.
How does this benefit students?
In addition to the proximity to campus resources, students living on campus have the benefit of the residential education experience to support their classroom education. The Residential Community Development Model is grounded in student development theory and the University’s Habits of Mind. From the point of housing selection, to meetings with student and professional staff, to planned community experiences, residential life fosters community and guides student development in tandem with students’ academic pursuits. The type and level of on campus student support shifts as a student moves through their years on campus. Such as higher level of staff involvement, (Community Director & Advisor), shared facilities and experiences during their first year, more independent living such as private rooms and suites, and finally, the ability to prepare their own meals in the student apartments.
Beyond the development and social support, living on campus also provides independence with a safety net. For example, should students find their music a little too loud, or have a disagreement with their roommate, campus staff are available to intervene versus municipal police. Additionally, violations of policy are addressed through the student conduct process versus town court.
How does this benefit the school?
There is certainly a financial component to consider. We run many models when determining the live off eligibility to find a balance that benefits both students and the university. We have enough housing to accommodate about 65% of the student body. Regardless of how many students are living on campus, there are bills that must be paid, so the more beds that are assigned, the more reasonable rates we can charge. If we allowed all juniors to live off campus, we would need to increase fees for the rest of the students to make up the difference.
It is worth noting that since the initial change from the fall of 2018 for the 2019-20 year, we have not made any changes, though our population continues to decline. In addition, for the 2021-2022 school year, we have kept the housing and dining fees the same as they are for 2020-21.
What is the commuter policy?
Students are permitted to commute from a home owned by a parent/guardian or while living with a parent/guardian within a 30 mile commute of campus and with residential life written approval. Residential life requires some forms to confirm this, and does make some exceptions for students to live with another family member, or outside of the 30 mile commute, on a case by case basis. For the 2020-2021 year, PSU extended the ‘commutable distance’ to include ‘telecommuting’ from home for the purpose of remote study.
Understanding the university’s policy and asking questions is very important to the Plymouth State University Faculty. Listed below are a few questions asked by students regarding Fall 2021 housing in an interview conducted with Amanda Grazioso on April 7th, 2021.
- If there is an influx of freshman where will students be housed?
“There are a few factors that come into play when looking at incoming students. They look at projection of sophomores and juniors as well as demographic trends
to make sure that there would not be an influx. If for some reason we had more students than spaces available, we might consider contracting with hotels around the area or temporarily adding an extra student into a double.”
- What happens if a family truly cannot support their child living on campus, but they live over 30 miles away?
“Plymouth State is always willing to make accommodations. We want to make sure students living off campus are living with their family, or someone that can guide them which is why we advise students to live on campus. Our main goal is to make sure students are successful, so if you have an hour commute each day, we want to make sure you stay on top of workload.”
- What does Plymouth State plan on doing in order to increase single room accommodations?
“It is evident that there are not enough private spaces on campus. There is hope that we can build single accommodation stand-alone buildings but is unlikely in the near future. Especially as 99% of the reason that students want to live off campus is to have their own space.”
- Are there any plans to renovate the dorms soon?
“I would love to see what they did in smith to other traditional style or First Year residence halls. There are no plans to build something new dorm wise, although there are plans to renovate dorms”.