Some freshman students vocalized frustration at the enforcement of a Housing policy that requires all freshmen to live on campus, but Senior Manager of Residential Life Janey Grover explained there were past “leniencies” with the policy despite it existing prior to the Winter 2018 Semester. Mandating the university’s policy means freshman currently living off campus must move on campus starting in Winter 2018.
“It’s always been a university policy that freshman need to live on campus,” said Grover. “We require students to live on campus until they have reached 30 credits by the RSVP deadline in order to live off campus the next semester.
“There have been some exceptions made in the recent past with the policy. A lot of that is due to space on campus and construction that was being done on some of the hales.”
Grover also explained the logic behind the policy and said that statistically, freshman do better in school and adapt better socially when they spent their first year on campus.
“I think it’s important to note that it’s a university policy, and when university policies are in place, there are good reasons for that.” Grover said data was given to Housing that indicates freshman students who live on campus do better academically, are more involved in their wards, and have a lower amount of Honor Code violations and Title IX occurrences.
She added, “Generally, they haven’t been here before and don’t know the area. Having freshman on campus allows them the opportunity to adjust to school and not have to worry about where they’re going to live before they even get here.”
Not all freshmen, however, have been able to find housing before coming to BYUH. Breann Almond, a sophomore from Nevada studying graphic design, said she found a last-minute spot in Kahuku her first semester of college because there was no space for her on campus or in Laie.
“It was really hard for me my first semester living off campus,” said Almond. “I didn’t know anyone, and it was hard to make new friends since I lived so far away.”
Grover said freshman have priority for on-campus housing, and the department has designated dorms for them in order to allow for a “first-year university experience.”
“We are changing some of the focus to make sure that freshman students have the top priority to live in on-campus housing,” she said. “We have been mandated to uphold the university policy so we’re doing that.”
“Moving on campus was the best decision ever,” said Almond. “I met so many new people, I knew everything that was happening on campus, the hales were so much cleaner than the house I lived in, and the people were way nicer to deal with too. I would recommend living on campus to every freshman.”
Some freshmen said they were unaware of this policy and were planning to live or already living off campus when Housing required them sell their contracts.
“This is my first semester here and I got booked in the hales, which is fine. I wanted to be on campus at first,” said Makenna Dowdell, a freshman from Utah studying exercise and sports science. “I was planning on moving off campus next semester and I went and booked a house and paid the security deposit. I didn’t know that they were forcing freshman to live on campus.”
Dowdell said she never saw an email until a week before the Housing deadline. “All of the housing was booked a month and a half before I got that email saying I had to move on campus. I haven’t been able to get my security deposit back. I’m trying to find someone to fill my spot but as of right now, I’m out $450.”
Dowdell said she went in to talk to Housing about her situation but still wished the office had handled the situation better.
“I just wish that they had a better system over there about being nice and complying with other’s needs. I’ve spoken with a number of other freshman who have dealt with similar problems.”
Grover said that a “small minority of freshmen” came into the Housing Office concerned about the policy.
“It is on the website,” said Grover. “I think that some freshmen have found various versions of what policies are because if you go on Google and you type something, there is old dead stuff out there that we don’t have any control over to get rid of. But if you look under the freshman tab [on the official BYUH website], it does talk about the freshman policy in the first paragraph there.
“We’re also working with web services to update our policies and to make our policies more transparent and more user-friendly to students. It would just be nice to inform students who were recently accepted into the school that this is being enforced.”
Grover said Housing sent out an email campaign at the beginning of the Fall Semester to inform students of the policy, but some students were unresponsive.
“We did an email campaign at the very beginning of school about two weeks into school that went to every student. It states that freshman students are required to live on campus. That campaign increased, so students should have received anywhere from four to six emails.
“Those students who didn’t comply or didn’t respond early had more direct emails from both the on-campus and the off-campus departments reminding them that they do need to live on campus.
“We wanted to do the email campaign because we realized that in the past, there’s been some leniency for freshman living off campus and that there were freshman living off campus. So we wanted to make sure that we were effectively communicating to students.”
Grover said, “We’ll continue with what we’re doing with an email campaign. I think the biggest thing is that a lot of freshman who I’ve spoken to don’t think it applies to them.”
Tyler Morris, a freshman from California studying psychology, is currently living off campus and said he was also contacted last minute.
“Housing contacted me a week before the deadline,” said Morris. “They email me and they go, ‘You haven’t signed on for on-campus housing. Know that if you don’t sign up for a dorm, we’re going to assign one for you and we’ll charge your account regardless if you live there or not.’
“It was annoying to me because I was in the process of signing another off-campus contract at the same time. The new landlord and I were fighting with Housing talking about how I’d already signed a contract. It’s been a nightmare.”
Morris said he sent in an appeal to Housing because he’s already living off campus and felt anxious while living in the hales his first semester.
“This was completely unprofessional how they handled this,” Morris said. “If Housing keeps saying that this has always been university policy, they need to do a better job of making that clear because as far as I knew, it was only [for] new incoming students.”
Grover said most freshman don’t have a problem with the policy and Housing is helping accommodate those students who booked rooms early.
“The ones who are having the problem, they’re a really small minority when you look at all of the students who have just followed the policy and booked a room on campus,” said Grover.
“Those who booked it early, we wanted to give them the accommodations that they would have off campus. Because they probably had kitchens and things like that off campus and so that’s how we tried to accommodate those individuals who came to live on campus.
“The ones who waited or are still waiting because there are still some who are not willing to follow the policy. We ran out of cooking dorms so they aren’t going to have as many options as the individuals who booked rooms for themselves.
Grover concluded saying it the policy is for the benefit of the students. “We want to allow freshman to adjust to a safe environment here on campus that can support that change, because for a lot of freshman students, this is their first time away from family. They’re coming to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and most don’t have resources available to them.”