SMU students weigh in on Residential Commons two-year, on-campus requirement
By Keagan Snively
Close to class, dining halls and recreational center; thriving community engagement; statistically proven higher GPA result; serendipity and spontaneity.
When hearing these different things, it seems that living in one of the 11 Residential Commons at SMU for two mandatory years would be an easy “yes.”
But for junior Lauren Lunden, it all comes down to one separating matter: money.
“For me, it is much cheaper to live off campus,” Lunden said. “My apartment is way cheaper than what SMU charges for campus living, but with more room and amenities. I also spend less on food by avoiding having to have an SMU meal plan.”
Even with the features that on campus living at SMU offers, Sam Gavic, Residential Commons Director (RCD) for Crum Commons, agrees that money is an area that needs some adjusting.
“This is definitely an area we as a university need to improve on,” Gavic said. “It is not cheap to live on campus, and you can certainly find cheaper housing options off campus. Either way it’s expensive, but we can do better to make living on campus more affordable and more attractive for students.”
Students with no scholarship aid living in a double or triple occupancy room for the 2014-2015 school year paid $9,670. Students living in a single occupancy room for the same school year paid $12,050. Lunden said her rent costs around $1,700 a month, but that is split between her and her roommate.
First-year Grant Hilbert said that although expensive, the Residential Commons have plenty to offer students of all backgrounds. He finds the community aspect intriguing.
“I really appreciate living on campus because I am right in the middle of campus life and activities,” Hilbert said. “I get to grow and learn in an academic learning environment while getting to meet and live with individuals of different genders, races and backgrounds. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful community. I am in no rush to leave.”
And he isn’t the only student that feels this way. Common’s President Drew Wicker understands that the relationships made are irreplaceable.
“I think it forces you to be social and get to know people,” Wicker said. “Which, besides the education, is the most rewarding part of college in my opinion. You develop invaluable relationships with a larger number of people than you would if everyone lived off campus.”
While building relationships is a perk for living on campus, some students would still prefer only having to live in the residential commons for one year.
“I believe many could be happy either way,” first-year Lexi Murphy said. “I have a lot of friends that enjoy living on campus, but also many that would prefer to live off campus their sophomore year, such as me.”
Transfer student Kelsey Karanges enjoyed having no campus living requirements at her previous institution, Kansas State University.
“Because we had no restrictions, I chose to live my first year on campus in order to get the experience and then moved off campus my second year,” Karanges said. “It was nice to have a choice in the matter because everyone has different preferences.”
Gavic said that though it is very rare, some exceptions are granted and students are allowed to move off campus before their first two years are completed. He said the most common instances of this is when a student has a medical issue that the Residential Commons can not accommodate.
And although some students think they cannot wait to get out and live on their own, reality sometimes hits them later on.
“I think most people value the experience after they leave. While they are there, I am sure there is some dissatisfaction and frustration,” Wicker said. “Many of the juniors and other individuals I have talked to miss the community and people they grew to know and enjoy. Many of them still keep in contact and value the time they had in the commons.”
There are always two sides to any story. In Lunden’s case, even though the expenses caused her to move off campus, she still appreciated the two years spent on campus.
“I feel like living on campus for the extra year gives you an additional year of adjusting to college before people move off campus and live on their own,” Lunden said. “Besides the money aspect, I personally am thankful we had to stay on campus for two years because I could not imagine moving into an apartment only being 19-years-old.”