Why is it so hard to move off campus?


By Zachary Breeding, Contributing writer

Learning to live on your own is what college is all about, right?

Becoming a capable adult that can take care of themselves and act autonomously is what our society has taught us to expect from the college experience. This is even found on the McKendree website wherein the goals of the Res Life program are listed as: 

“To extend the college educational experience for students and to create a residential community. Residence hall staff work with students toward making the residence halls an attractive place to live in order to facilitate student growth and development. Each hall develops its own sense of identity and community spirit which becomes an integral part of the overall campus living environment.”

This is used to justify the policy of requiring all full-time undergraduate students to live on campus unless they meet one of a series of strict requirements. These requirements are as follows:

The student is 21 years of age and holds senior class status (92+ credit hours),

  • The student is married, or has custodial care for dependent children,
  • The student is a veteran with at least two years of active military duty,
  • The student is commuting from the permanent residence of a legal guardian (must be within a 30-mile radius of the University),
  • The student is unable to live in University Housing or University-certified Housing due to financial hardship, or
  • The student has medical documentation supporting off-campus residency.

For the purposes of this article I will be ignoring the last three requirements as they are entirely dependent on unchangeable factors unless a student is interested in either crippling themselves (financially or physically) or relocating their family so they can escape the ever watchful eye of Res Life.

In analyzing the criteria that must be met a common theme is shared between the first three: it seems the university is assuming a level of maturity is required before students can be allowed to move off campus. I suppose this ideal is reflected in the section of the Res Life goals that discuss facilitating student growth and development. But does this not seem contrary to what we are lead to believe college is for, and do the actions of Res Life actually reflect this apparent desire to fashion us into real adults?

The coddling of sorts that occurs in the Res Life program seems a bit unnecessary, especially for students who already have a sense of independence or who are in their third year of having their RA try to become their best friend to keep a better eye on them.

Nothing about one-on-ones with RAs or monthly room checks to find an empty case of beer to punish a potentially of-age student is in line with preparing students to live on their own. In fact, once a student actually is on their own, as we’re lead to believe we are going to be at college, landlords aren’t going to conduct room searches. Unless they smell a strong scent of some illegal substance or notice a constant police presence they likely won’t even acknowledge your existence; they just want you to pay your rent.

So, why do they care so much about what goes on in our rooms that they try their hardest to keep us there until three years after our supposed leaving the nest at 18, and what for most students is their last year on campus? The constant presence of people who have the authority to enter your room at the sign of the slightest infraction (RAs and RDs) is completely contrary to growth and development into a self-sufficient adult.

Essentially, what I would like is an actual rationale from the Res Life program about why they make the hoops one has to jump through to move off campus so damn high. In the current situation the only apparent reason that I can see is that by keeping students on campus for at least three years, where they are also forced to either buy a meal plan or live at the overpriced and (hopefully) soon-to-be-condemned West apartments, the University is effectively pulling in even more money from the already hard-pressed students at McKendree.