Updated, Controversial Residential Living Policy…. Now What?

Fall 2022 on-campus may look a little different than it does now for second-year students. 

This change is because of a “new” policy that requires students to live on campus during their first two years of college. Policy 96 is not actually new, however, as it was first established in 2007 and last updated in 2018. 

The policy has been regularly waived due to low housing available on campus, but with the reduction in class size due to COVID-19, Western Carolina University now has the housing capacity to require two years of on-campus living.

Photo Credit: wcu.edu

Residential living does not foresee having to push upperclassmen off-campus either due to the new residence hall that will replace Scott and Walker being built and ready for the next academic year for incoming freshmen. 

How did no one know about this policy if it has supposedly been “advertised” on the school’s website all this time and sent to prospective students? 

The Department of Residential Living has been spreading this information to current and incoming freshmen since they decided to enact Policy 96 for the year. However, some current freshmen have already signed leases for Fall of 2022, unaware of this policy and that a signed lease does not lead to a residential exemption. News of this policy quickly spread through social media, but only after local apartments began signing leases.

Alex Fields, Associate Director of Residential Living, explains that “this policy was created to help students. The longer students live on campus, the better they perform academically.” She also argues that living on campus is usually cheaper for students, than living off-campus once you take into account all of the fees apartments charges. 

Madison Brown, a current freshman, argues “the money I spend on room and board, I was going to put towards an apartment. I could have saved money since most of what I pay to Western is room and board. So, with me having to live on campus again next year, I would like to have scholarships to pay for that.” 

The policy does not exempt students from the program for financial reasons and does not offer scholarships to those forced to live on campus.

According to Fields, Residential Living is also “creating sophomore programming in residential buildings so that students do not feel alone their second year of college. This is a way for us to provide support for sophomores.” Policy 96 was not created to punish students and it was not approved for the upcoming academic year for that reason either. 

The explained motive behind the policy is to help students academically, but many students do not see it as such. Many have declared that it is a way for WCU to save money and compensate for the low-class size. Some students feel as if they have no choice and Fields is unsure about how current freshmen were unaware of the policy since it was broadcast. 

The question Mackenzie Atkinson, a first-year student at WCU, raises is, “if they have had to waive the policy so many times in the past, why did they not just change the policy?” 

This was a question that went unanswered during a meeting with Residential Living as they were unsure. 

More information on WCU Policy 96 can be found at wcu.edu under ‘university policies’.