Each Wednesday, Taylor Felts and Jacob Broyles will tackle two sides of a contentious issue facing the Transy community. This week, we ask the question “Do Transy’s residency requirements impose an undue burden on students?”
Read Jacob Broyles arguing the opposite here.
While Transylvania’s stipulations regarding whether students can live off campus are exacting, the sense of community that is ultimately procured through this policy is of great value, and is an asset to the university’s environment at large.
According to Transy’s Housing Requirements, “Requests for exemption from the housing requirement must document extreme circumstance.” Aside from this amorphous outlier, to live off campus with sanction, a student must achieve senior status before the beginning of fall term, be at least 21, or be married and/or with dependents (or a student could be living with their family). Unfortunately, a student’s likelihood of living off campus is significantly diminished by these rigorous requirements. For some students this possibility is eradicated wholly; and with this loss, the potential for having had a valuable life experience as well.
If Transylvania is truly focused on student learning, there is arguably a great deal more that can be learned (that really should be learned) if the student lives off campus. When a student lives without the advantages of a meal plan, a diminutive walk to class, and guaranteed utilities, they must become self-reliant. Under the current housing stipulations, there is high likelihood that a Transylvania student could, hypothetically, go four years and never have to scramble to submit a utilities payment on time—or rent, for that matter. Whether it is grocery shopping or cleaning one’s own bathroom, there are a slew of practical items that should be mastered by the time the student graduates. While it is true that within some Transylvania accommodations students live more independently, all are still undoubtedly safeguarded by the university safety net, because even the apartments on 4th Street—the most independent of living arrangements—belong to and are managed by Transy.
The abundance and near totality of students living on campus creates students that are sheltered (for better or for worse), and who are in many practical ways naive. With everything so readily provided for the students, there’s not a great measure of independence that they must muster. While Transylvania attends to students’ academic growth, in many ways Transylvania no doubt also contributes to the growth of the individual by and large. While growths of character and social temperament are important, so too is the ability to live as an independently functioning adult. With housing requirements as exacting as they are, the potentially beneficial experience of living off campus is, in effect, withheld from the student until they are a senior. And more than this, it is impossible to ignore the potential financial merit in finding accommodation elsewhere, as Transylvania housing is costly, and also typically necessitates the purchase of an accompanying meal plan (also costly).
While I understand the community that the housing requirements establishes, the fact that the student is not totally free to live where they might wish is off-putting to me, especially coming from a culture where students typically live fairly far off campus as sophomores (the University of Kentucky). I lived next to State Street my sophomore year at UK, and my walk to class was generally in the twenty to thirty minute range.
However, this being said, the community I’ve experienced since coming to Transylvania is remarkable, especially in comparison with my former university. As the vast majority of the student body lives on campus, the sense that anyone can be readily reached is prolific, and effectively creates strong community, community which grounds the student and affords them with support and with security. Does compliance with Transylvania’s housing requirements place undue restriction on the student’s ability to live where they please? No, it does not, as the overwhelming aim seems to be to keep as many students living on campus as possible. The end result of this contract is an overwhelming sense of community, which shapes and defines the Transy environment.
This amiable and inclusive culture is no doubt largely due to the general centrality of student residence about campus; so while I agree that the housing requirements are relatively inflexible, and potentially problematic, I support what they are ultimately working for—an intimate student body, a connected student body, and really just students who feel at home.