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 Taylor Felts arguing the opposite here.
The overwhelming majority of Transylvania’s student body live on campus. This is likely in part due to the somewhat stringent residency requirements imposed on students. The reason given on Transylvania’s website for their restrictions is the following: “Transylvania University seeks to provide an educational environment conducive to the learning process, and we consider our residence hall program a major part of that learning environment.”
This does not make much sense considering the seeming arbitrariness of the restrictions in relation to the stated reason for the restrictions. In order to circumvent living on campus a student must meet one of the following requirements: 1. Achieves senior status (27 course units) before the beginning of the fall term 2. Is 21 years old before the beginning of the fall term 3. Is married and/or has dependents 4. Lives with parent(s) and/or legal guardian within 50 miles of campus.
This clearly has nothing to do with an environment conducive to the learning process. One could easily make the case that, in Transylvania’s own terms, a student living alone in an apartment style complex five to ten miles away from campus can be a part of the Transylvania community far better than a student that lived 50 miles away with their parents. The difference between these two situations is that it is much easier to tell a student they can’t live alone off campus than it is to tell a student and their parents that the student can’t go to school while living at home. There would inevitably be far more resistance to preventing students from being able to live at home. Aside from it being more difficult to impose restrictions on students living from home, there are no clear differences that would make living at home an environment more conducive to learning. If anything it seems as though living at home could pose more barriers to the learning process, between the potential distance, distractions with family and other responsibilities at home.
In the absence of a clear explanation for the residential requirements, I am inclined to assume that it has to do with the money to be made off of students living on campus. I am open to there being better reasons for the current policy, but they are not articulated anywhere that I could find. Simply saying that living on campus creates an environment more conducive to learning is a highly non-substantive explanation for the policy. A policy requiring students to spend thousands of dollars on top of an already expensive tuition for largely unsubstantiated reasons is ridiculous. Transylvania needs to either do away with or heavily revise their residency requirements, or provide a detailed explanation as to why it is so important that students pay to live on campus. I have lived off campus for the past year, and I do not feel that the quality of my learning environment is impacted by my choice to live off campus. Consequently, I am inclined to think that the restrictions are unnecessary. However, I think it is more important to acknowledge that Transylvania needs to be more consistent and substantial in its justification and application of its residency requirements. The substantial amount of money it takes to live on campus should be followed by substantial justification if students are required to live on campus.