Recently, College administrators have discussed the possibility of a three-year on-campus living requirement. Instituting this policy is undoubtedly a bad idea. A large part of what shapes the college experience for any student is their living situation. Certainly, a corridor residence hall environment fosters interaction that is ideal for incoming freshmen trying to know each other and become accustomed to making compromises with a roommate. Additionally, the suite environment allows for established friends to live together with new freedoms, privacy and less supervision; which is ideal for the sophomore student. But two years of off-campus living is also important to students' development, and students should be afforded this option if they want it.
Living in an apartment is one of the greatest tools to prepare students for life in the real world (let's face it - despite what the high school guidance counselor said, college isn't it). Students face new challenges such as paying bills and working with a landlord. Two years of off-campus living, for those that choose it, gives students the time to truly learn these new responsibilities, and enjoy the freedom that arrives with upperclassman status. These years allow students more time to live in different apartments and gain extra experience in the housing search process. Twenty-one and 22-year-olds are different people than they were when they arrived at college at 17 or 18, and are not at the point where supervision by residence life staff is appropriate. The independence that students are genuinely entitled to at this point in their college careers would be significantly stifled by this change.
Additionally, the logistical challenges of such a move present huge problems. With a housing situation in which the College can barely accommodate the number of on-campus students that it does have (as seen by this semester's placement of students in dorm lounges because of the shortage of rooms), one must wonder what massive construction projects must take place in a limited area so that three quarters of the student population could be housed. While the planned demolition of Jones, Livingston and Monroe residence halls is surely a good move given their age, the necessary space for all freshman, sophomores and juniors would require much more than simply the replacement of these dorms. College money and resources would be much better put to use improving and expanding academic facilities rather than residential, as a suitable student housing situation already exists on and off-campus.
The affect on outside groups - namely local landlords and apartment complexes - must be considered as well. With fully half of their customer base gone, these individuals would undoubtedly struggle to fill space that they currently lease. The financial impact on them would be devastating, and this would have serious repercussions for the local village and town economy.
While administrators will likely claims that the project is a step towards building community and establishing Geneseo as an honors college, the reality is that this is a money-maker for the College at the expense of students, who must pay the higher costs of on-campus living and meal plans, and local landlords, who will lose much of their revenue. Students should be given the option of two years living off-campus.