On campus housing for freshman debated

While it’s not always the most popular aspect of Alabama college life, living on campus is both required and beneficial according to one housing official. Alicia Browne, the Director of Housing Administration, strongly supports having freshmen live on campus.

“Freshmen are more likely to get involved in campus life and persist towards graduation if they are living in a dorm,” Browne said. “Living on campus gives them an easier way to make friends.”

The Freshman Residency Program was instituted in 2006 and was designed to give students the educational and social benefits they would not experience if they lived off campus. In fall 2011, there was a total of 5,772 incoming freshmen. With 34 percent of those students coming from out of state, being placed in a dorm allows them the opportunity to be involved and makes it easier to meet new people. Cameron Kiszla, a student living in a dorm, believes there are many advantages to living on UA grounds.

“I feel more involved at UA because I live on campus,” Kiszla said. “Living in the dorms, you don’t have to worry about finding something to do, you have to worry about finding time to do what you have to.”

Living on campus gives students the advantage of a short walk away from academic resources available to them. It is easier for them to wake up and walk to class rather than driving and finding a place to park. Incoming freshmen are also required to purchase a yearly meal plan, allowing them access to many dining halls scattered across campus.

Taylor Holland, a student who lives a few miles from campus, agrees that although living on campus would be convenient, he has his reasons for not wanting to.

“I like living off-campus because I feel that I have more freedom and privacy rather than being under rules and regulations set out by a dorm,” he said.

The Housing Administration assigns resident advisors to live at each dorm and watch over a certain number of students to make sure they follow the dorm rules.

“We are just there to help students transition from being at home to living on their own,” Browne said. “Being away from home for the first time gives students an exceptional amount of freedom. We are here to serve as a safety net.”

Besides regulating students living in the dorms, RA’s interact with them to build a friendly relationship. If a student is homesick or doesn’t seem to be adjusting well to college, the RA’s are trained to reach out to them in a way that they otherwise could not do if the student was living off campus.

“Living in a dorm is a great transition for students moving away from home for the first time because they wouldn’t have to worry about paying bills like they would in an apartment,” Browne said.

She explained that the rule for freshmen to live on campus became overwhelmingly popular with parents.

“There is a level of security that parents feel knowing they can call the Housing staff,” she said. UAPD continuously patrols college grounds, and each dorm has a card-access security lock.

“Based on our experience, living in a dorm is the best start for a student,” Browne said. “On-campus housing is meant to benefit students, not to punish them.”

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