Housing at Colorado College has always been a source of tension between students and the administration. Whether it was 1967 when students protested for the right to live off campus, or just last year when an overstuffed first-year class forced the school to place students in what were once Mathias and Slocum study rooms. Now, students are concerned with their ability to move off campus as juniors.
Upon completion of the East Campus Residential Development, CC will be able to house 82 percent of its student body in on-campus residences. The result is a tighter implementation of the three-year live-on policy, which requires that students live on campus for their first three years. “We are a residential liberal arts college, and this policy reflects who we are and what we believe,” said Deans Mike Edmonds and Rochelle Mason in a joint statement.
In the recent past, the administration temporarily relaxed this policy in the face of overwhelming housing demand. However, as John Lauer, Associate Vice President for Student Life, said, “I expect very few students to be given special consideration for off-campus approval before meeting the three-year requirement moving forward.”
Many in the administration defend this policy. “We believe in the power of community,” said Edmonds and Mason, “and that learning is furthered by living together with opportunities to connect and grow with people different than ourselves.”
“The benefits of living on-campus are huge,” said Zach Kroger, Residential Life and Programs Coordinator. “Students who live on-campus report a higher satisfaction level with the college, feel more connected to the community, and have higher grades.”
Kroger is correct about the higher grades. Student GPAs improved between one-fifth to an entire letter grade when they lived on campus, according to a 2010 study co-written by CC’s Pedro de Araujo, Associate Dean of the College and Associate Professor of Economics.
Kroger also mentioned that the campus begins to seem foreign for off-campus students. “A complaint I hear from off-campus students is that they feel disconnected from campus—they don’t recognize anyone, they don’t know what’s going on, and they can feel isolated.”
Hollis Schmidt, a junior currently living off campus, doesn’t share that sentiment. Schmidt is a near-ubiquitous presence around campus—she is the co-founder of Speak Easy, producer of Story Slam, and a member of both the women’s club rugby team and community engagement program. “Students who are invested in campus activities that live in the dorms their first two years will continue to be invested in on-campus programs, clubs, and activities,” she said, adding, “Students who care about being a part of the CC campus will continue to stay connected regardless of where they are living.”
Schmidt said she prefers living off campus. In fact, everyone interviewed for this article—which included seniors who lived on-campus their junior year and juniors who currently live off campus—agreed with Schmidt. Though several admitted that crime and dealing with landlords are negatives associated with off-campus living, they did not miss communal bathrooms or Residential Advisors (as off-campus junior Stephanie Kelly put it, “no parents, no rules”).
Furthermore, several rising juniors expressed frustration with their inability to live off campus next year. Kendal McGinnis described the three-year live-on policy as “so lame.” Sophia Skelly wondered if the reasoning behind the policy and the new East Campus apartments is to “catch more of that rent revenue.”
It is not hard to imagine why Skelly believes this. As previously reported in the Catalyst, living in an on-campus apartment is considerably more expensive than living off campus—in some cases, more than $2,000 more expensive over the course of the school year.
Deans Edmonds and Mason remained supportive of the live-on policy, despite the high costs. “Students are given this information (about housing costs) when they apply and before they decide to come to CC,” they said, “and the college incorporates living costs into its financial aid packages to make that a possibility for all our students.”