Exlusive off-campus requirements too strict

Bailey Hill

STAFF WRITER

I will not deny: the dorm life is quite the experience for a first-year student at Whittier College. However, I cannot speak from experience when regarding on-campus living for sophomores, juniors or seniors who live in dorms Turner, Wanburg or Harris.

Nevertheless, the dorms are all within a ten-minute radius from college facilities and air conditioning is found in each room. I realized I took AC for granted the year I moved off campus. I also took for granted the endless visiting hours from friends down the hall, the community each floor develops throughout the year, the intimate (or hostile) relationships between roommates and the random adventures to In-N-Out on a Tuesday night.

 As nostalgic as I may be, I would not live in Harris A, B, C or D. Considering the Whittier College budget cuts however, my utopian livelihood is not practical or rational.

My utopian livelihood is not practical or rational on campus, that is. My budget cuts seem to be increasing each year, so how was I able to build my utopia when my life is currently being flooded with student loans?

According to Residential Life policies, all first-year students, sophomores and juniors are required to live on-campus. With this said, each student must be enrolled full-time (12 or more credits) and each student living on campus is required to purchase the meal plan. The cost for the cheapest dorm residency (quadruple dorm room) is $2,327. The cost for 12-15 credits is $19,868 for one semester. The cost of the cheapest meal plan (5 meals a week) is $980. The total for one semester to live on campus is $23,175.

 However, a student is able to exempt from this policy if (1) prove legal residency (providing current utility bill or legal guardian’s name and address) is within a 25 mile radius from Whittier College, (2) provide legal documentation of 22 years of age before or on the first day of fall semester classes, (3) provide legal marriage or domestic partnership documents, (4) Senior status students (90 credit hours) may live off campus, (5) Medical, psychological or physical legal documents, (6) Legal documents providing evidence of extreme, unanticipated financial hardships (7) non-admission/withdrawal or dismissal from Whittier College, or (8) study abroad.

These exceptions seem validated—superficially. I know many students who are not able to “meet off-campus requirements”. What about the student who is on the cusp of financial hardships? Speaking of financial hardships, what is exactly necessary of one’s legal financial documents to “provide evidence” of validation? What about the student who readily abides by Whittier College’s on-campus living policies and is willing to pay for the dorm residency, but can only afford the tuition of a part-time student during each semester or perhaps every other semester? Or the student who cannot afford the mandatory meal plans? When these certain concerns are addressed the phrase “Whittier College will find a way to accommodate the student’s needs” becomes an obligated response many students will initially be told. However, I know of too many student cases to inform you likewise. During the middle of the school year 2013, an anonymous student was demoted from her Resident Assistant position for explicit reasons but was able to remain as an enrolled student at Whittier College. However, as an involved student in the school plays, athletics, member of various clubs and good academic standing, she requested to live off campus for financial reasons (the loss of her work study as an R.A had paid for the residential portion of tuition). Whittier College denied her this request.

The common theme between the various cases of students is the central issue of exclusive requirements and dismissal of the various situations each student holds. Whittier College administration perceives the students as opportunities to profit who are slipping through the cracks of policies and regulations.

            If you are hoping to request off-campus residency next year, download and fill out the exempt form from Residential Life. If all else fails friends of mine would tell you, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro” and plead insanity.

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