All freshmen and sophomores will be required to live in on-campus housing starting fall 2019, Harold Hewitt, the university’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, told The Panther Nov. 6.
The “controversial” residence requirement will be announced to students who are submitting applications to Chapman next fall, Hewitt said.
With the purchase of a brand-new apartment complex, Chapman Grand, the university will be able to house all freshmen and sophomores by next year, said President Daniele Struppa. Last year, about 100 students were unable to secure on-campus housing during the housing selection process in April because more students applied to live on campus than there were available spaces.
Chapman Grand is expected to house about 900 students. When the residence hall at the historic Villa Park Orchards Association Packing House site is completed by fall 2019, Struppa said that the university will be able to house 60 percent of its undergraduate students.
Right now, 91 percent of freshmen and 30 percent of sophomores live in student housing, said Dean of Students Jerry Price.
Struppa said one of the reasons living on campus will now be mandatory for freshmen and sophomores is to improve the university’s graduation and retention rates.
“Data seems to indicate that when students are living in residences on campus on university property, graduation and retention improves,” Struppa said.
Students will also have easier access to campus safety resources when living in university-sanctioned housing, Struppa said.
“Students traditionally don’t feel very comfortable calling the police,” Struppa said. “If something were to happen and you’re off campus, psychologically, it’s a bigger barrier to call the police rather than to call Public Safety. You know that their job is not to control or to punish, but their job is to help.”
The on-campus residency requirement, along with the purchase of Chapman Grand for student housing, will help appease Orange residents’ concerns about having college students living in off-campus neighborhoods, Struppa said.
“The city has been concerned about increasing the presence of our students in the city. I think that this will allow our students to have access to incredibly high-quality facilities and at the same time, not being in the position of creating conflicts with the residents,” he said.
Freshman health sciences major Emily Ennis said that while she understands requiring freshmen to live on campus, sophomores should be able to live off campus.
“You should be able to go and explore and be more independent,” Ennis said. “You’re 19 or 20 years old. You don’t need someone holding your hand.”
Amy Treadwell, a ’13 integrated educational studies alumna, told The Panther that she thinks making students live on campus for two years will deter students from the university and “change the whole college experience.”
“I know when I was in college, financially, it was cheaper for me to live off campus,” she said. “College is about growing into a young adult, and instead, (the school is) treating students like children by still telling them where to live and how much they have to pay. Remember, most college students are poor.”
Commuter students may have the ability to opt out of this residence requirement.
“I think we are going to have some waivers for people who live at home and they commute here,” Struppa said.
Price said that the university still needs to determine whether the requirement will also apply to transfer students.
“Most schools with a two-year living requirement will say, ‘If you’re transferring in with fewer than 60 credits, which is junior standing, then you have to live on campus.’ We haven’t gotten to that level of detail yet,” Price said.