Freshmen to live on campus

Freshman Courtney Watkins studies in her room. Freshman students predominantly live in Rivers Hall on campus. Rivers Hall is the home to a new freshman-focused success center to aid students with their academic studies.

University officials announced last week that first-time, full-time freshmen would be required to live in an on-campus residence hall for their first year at UNA.

The requirement comes from university officials wanting students to be more successful in their first year on campus, said Director of Residence Life Kevin Jacques.

“We want our students to graduate from UNA, and that’s the whole thing behind this,” Jacques said.

Students typically are not as focused when they live in off-campus housing options because they are not connected and engaged in the university, he said. Jacques said the requirement would not only increase involvement, but it would help retention university-wide.

“The university is really focusing on this, this is an issue and we need to address it,” Jacques said.

Schools across the state and in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Division I conference UNA is looking at joining, have live-on requirements, Jacques said.

UNA President Bill Cale said in a release that statistics show students that live on campus perform better academically and have a more successful college experience.

“The freshman year is the most important year of college,” said David Shields, UNA vice president for student affairs in a release. “It’s a major transition in a student’s life, and it’s a difficult transition for many students.

“That’s why we’ve applied the new freshman programs and initiatives that we have, and it’s why we’re developing a live-on requirement for freshmen. We’re here to help these students become a real part of this campus community, because when they do, their college experience will be a greater success. And that, in turn, will set them on a better course for life.”

The potential of the residence halls becoming over crowded is an issue officials are already working on, Jacques said.

A group of university officials is scouting locations for potential residence halls to be located on and the possibility of repurposing land around campus for new halls. Jacques said the officials are working on exclusions to the requirement based on marital status, whether or not a student has children or their homes’ proximity to campus.

“We would be able to accommodate them (for the fall of 2014) … we know that there would be a percentage that would be excluded (because of parameters not yet put in place),” he said.

Students like freshman Entertainment Industry major Brett Burcham said although he is successful by living on campus, forcing students to do so is counterproductive. Burcham said that despite the convenience of living on campus, there are still some downsides.

“Stuff that a lot of kids don’t like, like community bathrooms and small living space and having a roommate…the fact that they are requiring students to do that is unfair,” he said.

Burcham said students should have the opportunity to live wherever they want, and that is one of the reasons he chose to come to UNA.

“I think that’s a great option to have, to be able to live off campus or on,” he said.