Although both traditional undergraduate and graduate students can live on campus, nontraditional undergraduates do not have the same opportunity.
“I think it’s unjust,” Alexandra Aggor, a senior strategic communication major, said. “Nontraditional undergraduates pay the same amount of money as traditional undergraduates.”
When applying to the university, Aggor said, prospective students who want to live on campus are required to complete a questionnaire specifying preferences regarding living quarters.
“If I was responsible for the questionnaire, I would add at least one question which pertained to age groups,” she said. “For example, ‘would you feel comfortable sharing accommodation with a fellow student significantly older than you are?’”
Waiting to interview Craig Allen, the director of Housing and Residential Life, gave me time to notice there are numerous leaflets, flyers and business cards advertising the various off-campus accommodations for students who are exempt from living on campus. Having accommodations available off-campus takes some of the sting out of not being able to live on campus as other freshman and sophomore students do.
The reality is that freshman and sophomore students typically do not have a choice whether or not they live on campus. For most of these students, living on campus is mandatory. This requirement becomes optional for students 21-years-old to 25-years-old. Students older than 25-years-old are assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Some of the existing residence halls, are traditional double-loaded corridors with rooms on both sides of the corridor, housing two students per room, Allen said. Even if two students have a significant age gap, sharing the same room may work. For some students, the focus is on getting a degree. The age of the person sharing a room is not relevant.
Age may not be important to some people, Allen said. But that is not always true. Different students are looking for different roommate experiences. Sharing accommodations with a 40-year-old student may not be the roommate experience an 18-year-old would want.
Living on campus typically gives students the experience required to live at least partially independent from their parents, Robert Pendry, a freshman pre-major, said. Nontraditional undergraduates have usually already moved away from the parental home by the time they became students. This shows a level of independence that younger students fresh out of high school may not have acquired yet.
There is not enough housing on campus for university students, Allen said.
“We need to think about building more residence halls,” he said.
Having talked with the director of Housing and Residential Life, I find myself agreeing with what he was saying.
Different students have significantly different expectations of what university life should be, Allen said.
Future nontraditional students might not be in the same boat as those who are currently attending the university.
“Housing that was previously designated for graduate students as been reassigned to freshman and sophomore students,” Allen said.
Considering the number of nontraditional students we currently have, it wouldn’t take very much to reallocate those accommodations.
Shain E. Thomas is a FTDM major from Scotland.