by Brian Garvey ’20
One of the most polarizing issues on campus in the past few years has been the off-campus housing situation. There have been plenty of debates concerning who gets to live off campus and when, with strong feelings on both sides of the argument.
This situation has also spilled over to the on-campus housing situations.The presence of more upperclassmen living on campus, as well as a steady rise in enrollment over the past four years, has contributed to an unhappy living situation for some students.
However, there are many misconceptions about the reasons behind restricting who can live off campus. There are three motivations for the change to the off-campus housing policy: the first being to increase revenue, the second being to make the campus the center of social life, and the third being to stick to the idea of being a purely residential campus.
In terms of revenue, Kristine Goodwin, vice president of student affairs at Providence College, stated, “We are a tuition-dependent institution, and the kind of revenue loss we were experiencing was significant. This was a primary reason for looking into the policy.”
The administration believes that the school should follow through with the idea of being a “residential campus,” in that students should be residing on campus and taking advantage of everything the campus has to offer.
“Our studies have shown that there has been an increase in participation and utilization in regards to involvement,” said Steven Sears, associate vice president and dean of students. “Some of that success varies on the individual too, in that if you don’t take advantage of what’s offered to you, you may never experience the positive impact of things we are providing.”
Another issue students have debated and discussed is the quality of residence halls. As stated above, the student population at PC has been on the rise, and as a result students have questioned why they are being asked to live on campus for an additional year. Joe McDonald ’20 said, “I feel that after two years of penance in residence halls I should be able to make the choice to move off campus. Sometimes I feel as if there simply isn’t enough rooms to go around.”
Jana Valentine, director of residence life, stated, “I think that there is a perception that there is not enough space for everyone, but we can accommodate everyone on campus.” Dean Sears also stated, “We are really looking to review our residence halls and the quality of our facilities.” The board of trustees will also be voting on a residential master plan this coming June.
Off-campus housing is mainly controlled by the 02908 Club, with very few different options. This is due to the quality of 02908 homes, as well as the location and recognizable brand; most students have a 02908 shirt somewhere in their wardrobe. Bob McCann, a head partner of the 02908 Club, stated, “Some of the most attractive parts of 02908 reside in the fact that you have access to the house throughout the summer and over breaks. I also feel that being off campus is part of the student experience, as I feel that the experience of being in your own nice house is unmatched.” Some students, however, feel that more off campus options would be more desirable.
“I really like the quality of the house, but it’s tough signing a lease in the first few weeks of sophomore year,” said Ryan Gallahue ’20. “Without the flexibility of being able to make decisions closer to senior year, it is tougher to choose off-campus housing over the simplicity of an apartment on campus senior year.”
Other students also expressed complaints over the early lease, and Goodwin stated, “We are fundamentally opposed to students needing to decide their freshman and sophomore years where and who they would be living with years later.”
Ultimately, the administration wants students to know that if students want their questions answered, if they want to suggest changes, the door is always open. “The student voice at PC is so important. When Jana [Valentine]says come to office to talk, she really means that,” Stanley Vieira, director of citizenship and off-campus life, said. “I’ve yet to see a Residence Life office that works so collaboratively with students. That’s just what PC does.”
Students are more than welcome to visit the residence life office, as well as talk to their respective hall directors about questions or ideas they have.