The recent expansion of housing options on campus and a decline in admissions means new housing policies for all second-year students at Castleton University.
University officials announced that in addition to freshman being required to live on campus, sophomores will now be required to do the same starting immediately.
Dean of Students Dennis Proulx said that with the dip in enrollment, Castleton has spaces that need to be filled in residence halls, so they are capitalizing on that opportunity.
Since the dorm expansion in Rutland, 75 rooms were added and 45 singles were made available. Due to low enrollment, someone needed to fill those spaces.
“Up until this year, we’ve had 100 percent occupancy and at some times 104 percent occupancy,” Proulx said. “We’re down because of the freshman class.”
Proulx said though the policy requires sophomores to live on campus, they still have the option of living in a single or a Rutland apartment if they want to have that sense of independence.
“When a student moves off campus, they have to start taking into consideration how they’re going to pay rent, how to pay electricity, that sort of thing,” Proulx said. “So developmentally, it doesn’t force someone to kind of prematurely have to deal with that.”
Proulx said one of Castleton’s philosophies is that it is important for students to learn how to live with someone and build relationships, and he believes that’s a crucial part of what it means to be a college educated person.
According to President David Wolk, Castleton used to be one of the only schools in the Vermont State College System that didn’t require second-year students to live on campus.
“This has been the practice for decades at other institutions such as UVM and Johnson. Middlebury and St. Michael’s require students to live on campus for four years,” Wolk said.
But Castleton doesn’t need to take it that far, yet.
“I don’t see us in the near future demanding four years of living on campus. We’re talking about having room for first and second years,” Proulx said.
Director of Residence Life Michael Robilotto thinks the new policy is a step forward in the right direction and will benefit students academically as well as preparing them for independence in the future.
“A majority of our sophomores live on campus anyway, so we know that sophomores living on campus do better academically. Then they can decide to live off campus their junior or senior year when they’re fully adjusted to being at college,” Robilotto said.
He said that the Rutland apartments give students the luxury and freedom of living off campus, with the safety and resources of being on campus.
Thirty-seven Castleton freshman were screened on their thoughts about the new policy and the results were not shocking.
Of the 37 freshman students, 33 disagreed with the policy while only four agreed. A total of 14 freshman had plans to live off campus, and only one plans to commute from home.
Alyssa Saunders is one of the few students screened who agrees with the new policy.
“I think a huge part of college is living where you go to school,” Saunders said. “I definitely think living off campus can affect your grades in a negative way.”
Shane Centerbar, on the other hand, believes that college students are adults who are capable of keeping track of their own school work, and living off campus shouldn’t affect that.
“I think that if you are really here to learn and make a name and living for your future self, then you should have no problem getting your stuff done,” Centerbar said.
Kati Larocque planned to live on campus for the duration of her four years at Castleton, and agrees with Saunders that living off campus can affect your academic performance.
“I agree with this policy. I think that it helps with the socialization aspect! Being off campus could affect you in a negative way and the levels of procrastination would increase,” Larocque said.
Mariah Jollie thinks students shouldn’t be forced to live somewhere against their will. “I don’t agree with it. Tuition can cost a lot of money that many Vermonters don’t have,” Jollie said.
Jollie had plans to live off campus with her teammates next year, but team houses count as off campus, so now she’s reconsidering.
“It is something I wanted to decide with my fellow teammates. I would like to have the freedom to decide whether I live on or off campus,” Jollie said.