When administrators decided to permit sophomores to live off campus last year, they viewed the move as a chance for students to accelerate their maturity at USF.
But many students have responded with disappointment and anger.
Steve Nygaard, director of the Office of Residence Life (ORL), reiterated information that was recently sent out to all USF students via email. Nygaard stated that the university “has changed the second year requirement for students to live on campus in an effort to allow these second year students the opportunity to live off campus and to create additional spaces for our first year students.”
The change in policy was announced in December and there have been various attempts to communicate the new policy to students throughout the Spring semester.
The University anticipates enrolling the same number of first-year students in fall 2011– roughly 1,175– as it did in the Fall of 2010.
The University, however, has seen an increase in enrollment over the past several years. Allowing sophomores to live off-campus may be a way to relieve the overcrowding housing issues that ORL currently faces.
ORL and the University have stressed that students will not experience any change in financial aid eligibility, unless they move home with parents or other relatives in the Bay Area.
According to one parent, some sophomores may not be “mentally prepared to deal with the great responsibilities that come with living as tenants off-campus, nor will they get to experience the student life that they signed onto when they made the decision to come to USF.”
Nygaard noted that it is difficult to compare this year’s incoming class to those of years past because of the change in residency requirement; ORL has had to waitlist students for on-campus housing just about every year.
Many sophomores have expressed disappointment regarding the new policy as they had anticipated living on-campus their first two years–a requirement of the old policy.
Raven Sanchez, a current freshman, is just one of many students facing this serious dilemma. Sanchez was hoping to find housing in Phelan Hall, but was instead left with the only option of living in a single room seven blocks away from campus in Pedro Arrupe.
“Sadly, these circumstances are something I would have never wished on myself, in my second year of college,” she said, “but in comparison to many of my friends, I got lucky.”
Sanchez claimed that had she not been able to find housing on-campus, she most likely would not have been able to afford to live off campus.
Several students in this situation have asked why the university has not added more rooms for student housing, despite their ability to spend money on several renovation projects. USF Administration insists that it lacks both the resources and the space to do so. They have instead opted to alter the housing policy.
Students who are seeking guidance with housing issues have been told to contact ORL. Sanchez said after several attempts she was able to make contact with ORL and was told she would not be guaranteed housing.
“It was like going in a big circle,” Sanchez added.
USF is not alone in dealing with student housing shortages. Other major universities such as the University of Arizona, Northwestern, and Virginia Tech are also facing a similar dilemma.
ORL maintains that it will continue to communicate the change in policy as well as host programs to discuss tips for finding off-campus housing.
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