Next year’s freshmen class, the class of 2011, will not have an opportunity to live off campus their sophomore year.
In the past years, 80 percent of sophomores lived on campus. Of the remaining 20 percent, some transferred to other schools and the remaining less than 100 students moved off-campus. The new sophomore residency requirement installed by the school will mean that in years to come these students will have to continue living on campus for one more year.
John Carroll University now joins a majority of Jesuit schools who require students to live the first two years of school on campus.
The rule will not apply, however, to students whose hometowns are in the Northeast Ohio area and have declared themselves as commuter students.
The requirement was suggested to Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Rombalski by a committee headed by Associate Dean of Students Donna Byrnes. The purpose of the group, which met during the Fall semester of 2005, was to find solutions to fill the 200 empty beds in JCU’s residence halls.
Out of these meetings came the sophomore residency requirement, which Byrnes said has more benefits beyond filling beds on campus. “We believe staying on campus is good for people development,” she said, explaining that programming within the residence halls builds character.
She also insisted that living on campus provides some stability in times when students are still solidifying their intended majors, college friends and their spirituality.
Plus, she explained, it keeps students involved. “As students move off campus, they become less involved. When you get home, you kick off your shoes, get comfortable and don’t want to leave,” she said. “We just felt in the sophomore year, it’s important to still be involved.”
Rombalski explained that this rule might also make the school are looking for a place where they can guarantee housing,” he said. He also felt that it would not affect enrollment negatively because high school seniors rarely look as far ahead as their sophomore year.
Also, both Byrnes and Rombalski suggested that this new requirement might help community relations.
“College students in 2007 are different from college students in 1997,” said Rombalski. “Most of our off-campus problems are from sophomores who have houses within the community.”
Byrnes suggested that many of these problems arise when on-campus students walk to sophomore off-campus residences. With students living on campus for an extra year, she said she hopes to prepare them for living with others in society.
“When we move them out into the community, we hope that we’re sending people who represent us well,” she said.
Thus, Byrnes’ committee looked beyond concerns of solely filling dorm beds. She explained that they worked to find the best solutions for residency problems throughout the school.
The solutions the group presented were not always the ones that solved the excess of empty rooms. Byrnes’ committee, for example, said that in order to completely fill the dorms, the University would have to require residency through junior year. Each year, about half of juniors live off campus.
However, the committee did not find it fair to require three years of residency. “Currently, we don’t have the type of housing that juniors feel meets their needs,” said Byrnes.
In the future, however, the dorms may have the kind of housing that meets upperclassmen needs, said Byrnes.
“Part of JCU’s master planning process includes the residence halls,” she said. “It’s where it fits in, not if it fits in.”
She explained that such changes might mean dorm rooms with built-in kitchens, so upperclassmen could opt for making their own food and not having a meal plan.