A few weeks ago, The Index brought to the attention of the K community the re-implementation of an old housing policy. For those who are still unaware, this reversion requires juniors to “live in the College’s residential system and board at the College’s dining center through winter quarter of their junior year.” Though this policy will not affect anyone who’s currently on campus (it will, instead, begin with the class entering Fall 2017), this change was received with widespread backlash from students, with many voicing their displeasure on social media platforms.
Graduating senior Vishakha Choudhary said, “This housing policy was there during my first year here, but rather than being a favorable living situation, it was a cause for inconvenience to many… double rooms were turned into triples, making dorms… cramped and uncomfortable. There just wasn’t enough space to accommodate everyone, which is what prompted them to change the policy to living on campus at least through sophomore year.” Granted, the outgoing class is the biggest K has ever seen, but if the rumor mills are to be believed, the incoming batch of first-years is even bigger. There’s already talk of turning Harmon Hall into a first-year only dorm from next year, and there is no guarantee on whether the college will abstain from doubling-up to make more “room.”
Vishakha also said that living off-campus has been a great experience for her, and that it’s made her more independent, adding that “college is supposed to be a learning curve, a place for one to come into their own and become self-reliant. The new/old housing policy is counterproductive to this goal.”
Annarosa Whitman, K’20 agrees, “As someone who is older than most of their peers, I already feel out of place in the college’s residential system. I look forward to the time when I’m eligible to move off-campus, and am waiting in anticipation to enjoy the freedom and personal space that comes with it. Two years of mandatory stay on-campus is already a lot to ask of someone like me who’s lived independently in the past.”
In the college’s defense, while the two-year residential policy is more than the single year requirement at several universities, it is typical of small liberal arts colleges like K. However, rarely does a college force its students to living on-campus through past their 21st birthdays —a notion that seems absurd on paper, but is soon to be practiced at Kalamazoo College.
But while the student response has been negative, others have been more understanding, speculating over the possible reasons behind it. Vasileios Georgopoulos, K’20 argues that this change in policy is fair if it helps the college to remain financially stable, but that the “sneakiness” involved was not appreciated. For some, this apparent need for financial security will come at the price of their own monetary strength. It is no secret that many college students, even those who benefit from K’s generous financial aid packages, are drowning in debt as the quarters pass. An additional two-quarters of room and board will only increase that burden by a couple thousand dollars.
Whatever be the reasons behind this sudden reversion of policy, it will be interesting to see how those who are actually affected react to this obligation, particularly and whether or not this system remains in place for long.