Civilian students told they must stay in campus housing for first 3 years

Thomas Carson_Civi Dorm 1 (Color)All underclassmen civilian students must live on the Norwich campus for three years, unless eligible for a waiver, said the vice president for Enrollment and Student Affairs.

Previously, “the student assumed a 3 year commitment to housing but we told them, due to a lack of housing, full time civilian students planning for their 3rd or 4th year may request to reside off campus by simple request on the housing form” said Dr. Frank Vanecek, vice president for enrollment and student affairs.

This temporary addition to the policy was made because “we felt it was to going to be a better experience for everybody if we let them go off campus to alleviate the housing here,” Vanecek said. Overcrowding will no longer be an issue for next year and “all students assume a 3 year residential requirement.”

“A junior next year, a current sophomore, is not going to simply request to live off campus,” as they did in previous years, Vanecek said. “They are going to have to do the specific waiver.”

This means that only upcoming civilian seniors, current juniors, will have to the option to simply check a box indicating that they wish to live off campus. The housing policy has always opened this option, however, the overcrowding issues in recent years made it necessary to allow temporary changes.

The change for next year is that “we will have a beautiful facility and therefore everybody can live on campus and there will be plenty of space,” Vanecek said.

Vanecek explained that if a civilian student wants to live off campus, and has a good reason to do so, then they can fill out a waiver which is then reviewed and either approved or denied by the director of Residence Life. The waiver is a way for a student who has needs or special circumstances that are not met by living on campus to request to live off campus so that they can best accommodate their housing to their specific situation.

In order to start the waiver process all the student “must (do is) put in writing why they’re waiving their requirement to live on campus, in writing, to me by a specific date noted in the housing policy,” said Iphy Tanguay, director of residence life.

The housing policy that comes out in the second semester of every year has a section devoted to instructing students on how to start the waiver process it states that they should contact Tanguay, who is the initial contact person.

“There are several steps in the process to make sure that it’s done right,” Tanguay said. This ensures that every student’s waiver is gone over justly and fairly so that no mistakes are made.

Tanguay explained that while there is any number of reasons for why a student may fill out a waiver, the most common are either financial or medical in nature.

A waiver is only granted if it is deemed to be appropriate and is the option that best suits the needs of that individual. According to Tanguay, the student must “back up what was presented to me in their original waiver.” Every waiver request is looked into to make sure that the information is accurate so that the waivers are approved for the proper reason.

When it comes to supporting this policy, Tanguay said that “certainly there are benefits to it for the campus and for the students.” This policy will help to create a greater sense of community on campus as well as help students to focus more academically. Both the student and the campus gain from having more students on campus.

“I think it’s for the betterment of the student,” Tanguay said regarding the benefits of students living on campus. “They’re able to focus better and it creates more of a community here on campus.”

There is a mixed response from the affected student body on the new policy. Among those students who disagree with the policy is Stacey Avnes, 19, a sophomore communications major from North Hills, Calif.

“Next year me and my friends were planning on living off campus,” Avnes said regarding how the policy directly impacts her and her friends. “But, because of the new housing policy, we are forced to stay on campus. That’s something we are not happy about.”

Even with the clause allowing students to apply for a waiver to live off campus, it is not guaranteed that every person meant to share in paying the rent for a house will be able to, Avnes says. This will prevent everyone from being able to afford the rent. “Even if a couple of us were granted a waiver, not all of us are going to be granted a waiver,” she said. “So, we wouldn’t be able to move out anyway, since if only a few of us are granted a waiver then we can’t get the house.”

However, there are also students who prefer to live campus because it is an easier lifestyle for them compared to living off campus. “I think it’s just easier to live on campus,” said Kelley Lebrecht, 19, a sophomore criminal justice major from Burlington, Mass.

Life on campus may be easier for a number of people because of the proximity of the dining facilities, as well as other buildings that students use regularly. For example, Rachel Mezis, 19, a sophomore math/education major from Woodbury Heights, N.J. said that she likes “how when you’re on campus, everything is around.”

With campus services and classes a short walk away, this is a major factor in some students wanting to live on campus. However, the close proximity of the buildings is not always the deciding factor for some students, since academics also play a part in the housing decision. “I think it’d be less distracting to live off campus,” Avnes said, “because then you’re not surrounded by all of the events that are going on campus.”

For a number of students, it is from the financial standpoint that they base their position. For her group of friends it would have benefitted them financially and also academically if they were able to live off campus as a group, Avnes explained.

Avnes said “that living off campus would remove some of the partying that goes on the weekends, because you’re in a separate environment and you’re only around the people who are committed to having the same style life as you.”

One thing that is certain to not be overlooked is how a lot of students were planning to live off campus, or are currently living off campus and had planned to reside off campus until graduation, now can’t due to this policy explained Lebrecht.

Other than students not being able to live in their preferred setting, Mezis expressed her concern as to whether or not the campus would be able to support the larger number of students in terms of parking and dining facilities. While perhaps not an immediate issue, the opening of the new dorm and the increasing civilian population in upcoming years is an issue some students, like Mezis, are considering.

For others, focusing on the quality of student life is the main reason for questioning the new policy. “I would honestly not force students to live on campus. It’s not gonna make people happy if residence life make us stay on campus,” Avnes said. “The reason we want to move off campus is because it’s financially better for us, whether or not we qualify for a waiver. We’ll probably be happier if we move off campus.”

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