Lowerclassmen encouraged to live on campus for at least one year
by Ryan Wenger
Cornerstone University junior Mark Stoll has lived on campus in VanOsdel Hall and the West Side apartments for the past two years and says there are advantages to being close by. “I like the whole feeling of community,” Stoll said.
“I also like that I don’t have to drive.”
But sophomore Mykel Hall moved off campus his sophomore year and said he likes having control over his own space.
“I like having my own place,” he said.
The decision to live on campus or off is one that nearly every traditional CU undergraduate faces at some point.
Many upperclassmen and students whose families live near CU feel the temptation to move o_ campus. But while CU administrators say they understand the reasons many students move off campus, they encourage students to take advantage of the benefits of staying in campus residence halls and apartments.
“So much of what is learned in college is reinforced and magnified by being in the residence halls,” said Gerald Longjohn, vice president for Spiritual Formation. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Longjohn said the transition to being independent adults is helped by the measure of independence students have living on campus, as well as the close proximity to other students.
“For students who are new to the community, living on campus is a huge advantage to experience all that CU has to offer,” said Molly Heemstra, director of residential life. “When students move off campus, they have to be much more intentional about participating in the community.”
Some students who have lived on campus want to transition to living more independently off campus, Longjohn said. “Don’t be in a rush. A lot of people loved their college years.”
Other students see living on campus as being very costly, he said. But there are off en benefits to living on campus that students don’t see, such as utilities that are included in room and board, as well as the opportunity for financial aid.
Heemstra said when factors such as vehicle expenses and food are factored in, there is not usually a large financial difference.
The percentage of students living on campus has increased in recent years.
Heemstra said there was an 80 percent retention rate between students’ freshmen and sophomore years last year, and most of those students stayed on campus, while the juniors and seniors tended to move away.
Hall said there are a few downsides to living off campus, such as gas prices and being disconnected from the community. He currently lives 10 to 15 minutes from campus, but he said he is planning on moving closer.
Senior Rebekah Willis has lived at home during her entire time at CU. She lives about 25 minutes from campus and is able to save money due to her rent-free situation.
“And I actually like my family,” Willis added with a smile.
Willis said she dislikes being unable to get involved in the community, but it works out better for her financially to commute.
The only downside Stoll has seen to living on-campus is the lack of storage space in dorms other than the on campus apartments.
Students said crowding – including situations where three people sharing a room – is one reason to look elsewhere.
One step that has been taken to reduce the problem is the return of Quincer Hall to dormitory duty. The near-legendary residence hall has been used for the past three years as office space for professors from the Humanities Division and the Bible, Religion and Ministry Division.
“We do have the space, the problem is just deciphering what space is needed,” Heemstra said.
Longjohn said CU is trying to emphasize the identities and traditions of the residence halls to enhance the residential living experience.
These policies align with the value CU sees in on-campus living, Heemstra said.
“I understand why some students would want to live off campus, but I encourage everyone to live at least one year on-campus,” Longjohn said.