by Sydney Gayton ’23
Living with your friends is one of the best parts of college and something that students look forward to while in high school, sometimes even earlier. It offers a new sense of freedom that is typically not experienced until coming to college, where there are no parents telling you to make your bed.
At Providence College, first-year students will typically be in a traditional dorm-style room in buildings separated by sex, with sophomores in either McCarthy or Aquinas Hall, and juniors in one of the five on-campus apartment buildings. Around 50% of students in each senior class will choose to live off campus their senior year on or around Eaton Street. This is also the only year that the school allows students to live off campus.
While, in theory, it is nice to have most of the student body on-campus, there is not enough housing on campus to accommodate so many people. The lack of housing has been made even more apparent with the COVID-19 pandemic, as fewer juniors are going abroad. Often, juniors will have to live in McCarthy Hall because the entire class does not fit within the five apartment buildings, which means that there are fewer rooms in suite-style living for sophomores, who, after Aquinas fills, are forced to live in first-year dorms, such as Raymond Hall and St. Joseph’s Hall. This means even less room in the first-year dorms, resulting in forced quads or triples in rooms that are not meant to hold so many people. It is a vicious cycle.
On its website, PC says that “freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are required to reside on campus. It is college policy that any student wishing to live off campus must have permission from the Office of Residence Life.” If the school allowed juniors to live off campus again, there would be enough room in the apartments and other dorms so that students would be able to live in a building with their own grade and friends. Additionally, no one should be forced to live in an office building, such as Koffler Hall, just because the school does not have enough rooms for its students.
On the Residence Life website page, PC administration says, “We know that housing is an important aspect of every student’s college experience. At Providence College, we strive to create a comfortable environment that compliments your academic pursuits.” Whoever wrote that must have never used a communal bathroom here.
Joe Sinicropi ’23, who currently lives in McCarthy Hall as a junior, and was almost housed in a freshman dorm during his sophomore year, says that “it’s frustrating that the school has been unable to offer my friends and I housing with our own grade, and won’t even allow us to live with our other friends off campus. If there isn’t room for us, we shouldn’t be forced to live somewhere we don’t enjoy.”
This is not a new issue, either. There is a petition on change.org from a few years ago calling for juniors to be allowed to live off campus. The school changed its policy to prohibit juniors from living off campus because of “lost revenue” from meal plan and room and board fees. This seems selfish and irresponsible on the school’s part, as students are forced to pay thousands of dollars a semester to be in an overcrowded room, which is not conducive to creating a “comfortable environment that compliments [our] academic pursuits.”
How can students be expected to maintain their mental and physical well-being, as well as succeed in the classroom, when their beds are touching their roommates’ and there isn’t even enough room for everyone to have a desk? What is supposed to be a fun and rewarding part of college feels a lot like a punishment.
There has been talk that a building similar to McCarthy will be constructed in the next few years, but until then, PC should allow some of its juniors to live off campus if they wish to do so to help with its housing shortage.
If the College really cannot cope with losing revenue from juniors living off campus despite the continually alarming tuition increases every year, it should stop over-enrolling the incoming classes or start building that new dorm quickly (both of which seem more expensive than letting some juniors live more comfortably off campus).