By: Luigi Finston
In past years, NMSU has been very liberal in its approach towards living accommodations. In most scenarios, students have been given the freedom of choosing whether or not they wish to live in the campus dorms. Neighboring apartment communities such as Casa Bandera, Country Crest, and The Verge have, as a result, been popular locations for students to live. It seemed to be a healthy balance of an on-campus community and another world for the off campus students. That balance, for freshmen at least, is now coming to an end.
The Board of Regents announced in mid-July its decision that in essence requires freshman to live on campus for at least the first year of their college time, starting with the fall of 2017 newcomers. Specific details of the rules and regulations will be announced at a later date but it is generally thought to be a choice of living quarters that include Garcia, Pinon, and RGH dorms.
So is this a wise move from the NMSU administration?
Some believe so. From an experience point of view, this move will enable freshmen to be to have easier access to the University and the facilities, professors, student activities and organizations it entails. Living on campus would also hypothetically help with tardiness to class.
ASNMSU President Matthew Bose explained that he was a little bit unsure of his own viewpoint on the proposed policy when it passed. This was due to the fact that most of the groundwork was laid by the previous administration, yet to him, it didn’t seem like a policy that students wanted.
He says that now, looking at retention rates that still seem to be falling, he believes that the University and students should try this new policy to see if it works in raising these rates. Bose explained that when Senators expressed skepticism of the policy, “I told them I would look favorably upon setting up a resolution to review it in 3-5 years, at that point, we will have the statistics to see if it improved retention or not.”
Steven Garcia, a senior and history major at NMSU, believes that living on campus will also improve graduation rates in the long run. “There are a lot of social aspects as well” he said. “Some people you meet as a freshman share core classes with you, being able to study together in study group’s helps things go much faster.” Along with being potentially socially rewarding, Garcia, who lived in the now demolished Monagle Hall as a freshmen, also believes it can help with educational results as well, “On campus means direct access to help, more help means better results in the long run” he explained.
Additionally, the requirement could also give students a better perspective as to what college life is about. Many freshman arrive with a set mentality of one way they believe their year will go and suddenly they are thrown into sometimes a harsh reality.
Freshman are also a major focal point at the beginning of each semester for many on campus entities. Countless clubs and student organizations are trying to recruit new members in order to ensure their respective groups live on.
Student organizations and Resident Housing have experienced a major cut as Matthew Baca, a Hall Council member and Pinon resident last year, described. “RHA [Resident Housing Association] suffered a
huge budget shortfall last year” he said. “With more students living on campus it gives us the opportunity to be there more for them and we are able to organize more events for students as well.”
But is living on campus such a good idea? Opponents of the policy are worried that it will cause a drop in enrollment, but President Bose thinks that it is a reasonable sacrifice to improve keeping students in school. “What we’re doing isn’t working; enrollment is going down and you simply have to take a chance sometimes.”
Families are always concerned about the type of conditions that their son or daughter will be living in. Not all dorms are in great condition, clearly, and dorm life has for the most part been the opposite of “luxury”. Issues of sanitation, vermin, temperature, maintenance, and cost have been major questions that parents ask. Do you really get what you pay for?
Tori Null, a sophomore and animal science major who lived in the RGH dorms last year, thinks so and she said things really are not unbearable from a student point of view. “It’s a dorm, so you’re not going in with high expectations” she explained. “There’s a few things here and there but nothing terrible. It helps expose you to life on your own and is a great transition from high school to college”. Luigi Finston may be reached at TruAcademic@NMSU.edu