Freshmen Shouldn’t Be Forced to Live On Campus

Pictured is residence hall New Hall South. Tech’s housing policy states all freshmen are required to live on campus their first year. (bobbergdesigns.com) Photo by Oracle staff.

Living in a dorm tends to be a rite of passage for college students everywhere. Unfortunately for many freshmen at Tech, they aren’t given a choice in the matter.

Tech’s housing policy states all freshmen are required to live on campus their first year. However, students may be granted a waiver under specific conditions, such as commuting from a parent or legal guardian’s house within a 50-mile radius.

To the unlucky students that are forced to get a dorm, it is yet another financial burden to worry about.

Per semester, the cost of a regular double occupancy resident hall for incoming undergraduate students is $2,880. In comparison, Apartments.com states the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Cookeville is $571, which is $2,855 for a semester.

While apartments are only slightly less expensive than dorm rooms, the benefits of a larger space and a personal kitchen and bathroom make the small difference worth it.

Freshmen residents are also required to buy a meal plan. For meal plans, the most popular dining option, Gold Plus, is $2,477. Research from the Education Data Initiative shows college students in Tennessee spend an average of $219 a month on groceries.

Students would save hundreds of dollars a semester if they were to get their own food instead of relying on a meal plan. Buying their own groceries also gives them more freedom to buy the food they enjoy. While there is a variety of foods to choose from at The Caf, the quality might not be the best and it may even become boring after a while.

Living in dorms takes as much of a mental toll as it does a financial toll.

One of the biggest disadvantages of living in a dorm is the lack of privacy. Freshmen tend to live with a roommate their first year. In some residence halls, bathrooms are shared among the entire floor. These conditions can make personal space difficult.

Stefanie DeLuca, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, said, “Living in crowded conditions not only increases the risk of infection but can also impose serious emotional and mental health costs. The ability to retreat into one’s own space is a way to cope with conflict, tension and anxiety.”

Freshmen shouldn’t have to pay for something they can find cheaper elsewhere, especially if it might be a risk to their mental health.

Ultimately, students need the freedom to choose where they are going to live their first year of college. Forcing them to live in a small room could negatively impact their college experience.