OPINION: Freshmen should be allowed to live in apartments

Confining first-years to dorms hurts lower income students



Forcing new students to live in the dorms can hurt their bank account and take away their chance to feel at home at WSU. Apartments provide just as many “community-building” opportunities as dorms and are easier on the wallets.

ELENA PERRY, Evergreen columnist

All college graduates can probably recall their days living in a dorm room. Typically, images of a crowded space and noisy neighbors fester in the mind. Living in the dorms is rarely a positive experience, despite aims at community building and making friends.

At WSU, it is required that freshmen live on campus in one of the many residence halls scattered around campus or in an approved fraternity or sorority house, which they can only move into after their first semester in the dorms. One purpose of this is for freshmen to socialize with others in their living space and meet new people. However, a residence hall is not the only place for this to occur.

“Personally, I’m in the marching band,” said Ellie Painter, freshman strategic communication major. “If you’re active and join clubs, there’s plenty of other ways to get involved on campus and meet people.”

Freshmen like Painter have many opportunities to make friends that share common interests, like in clubs, classes or sports. Typically, in a residence hall, the only thing you have in common with those on your floor is the place you live.

Living in an apartment on campus comes with similar activities to promote community building. Apartment coordinators will often host programs so that students can get to know each other.

“I’ve definitely seen a sense of community being built and friendships being formed at these events,” said Anya Guadamuz, apartment coordinator at Columbia Village apartments.

Cost is one significant issue with residence halls. Living in the dorms, despite the close quarters with a roommate and shared bathroom, shower, kitchen and laundry space, is a very expensive part of going to WSU.

According to the rate estimator on the WSU housing website, living in a residence hall with the cheapest meal plan, which is also required for freshmen, can cost anywhere from about $10,500 to over $13,000 depending on the residence hall students live in, which have varying price points. Divided by the number of months students spend on campus, nine, students are paying anywhere from $1,174 to $1,472 per month.

On campus there are several apartment complexes as well as residence halls. Apartments provide students with their own space and privacy. They can have anywhere from two to four bedrooms, so each student can have their own room. This in and of itself is a huge upgrade from bunking with a roommate the whole year.

Not only would students get their own sleeping space, but apartments contain a kitchen, living room and bathroom that students do not have to share with anyone aside from the one to three people they live with.

The thought of getting to shower in private and not have to use a sink with someone else’s leftovers in the drain is enough to excite a freshman living in a dorm. But not only is it a huge upgrade from residence life, it is much cheaper too.

An on-campus apartment with two bedrooms can cost anywhere from $470 to $645 a month per person. Granted, in most apartments, students must pay their own electricity bills, but the difference in price is drastic regardless.

In addition to the cost, many students find it difficult to make dorm rooms feel like home. For Guadamuz, the dorm she lived in did not provide adequate space for her belongings.

“For me, the worst part [of living in a dorm] was not having enough space for all of my things,” Guadamuz said. “And then because I didn’t have enough room, everything would be messy and cluttered.”

Painter is also looking forward to being able to live somewhere with more space to customize to better suit her personality.

“[An apartment] would be more personalized. You get to decorate it yourself and not have someone else that close to you,” she said.

Freshmen should not be required to live in residence halls their first year at WSU. They should instead have the option of being in a dorm or choosing an alternative, such as an apartment. These alternatives could cost less and offer more privacy. Freshmen should be allowed to explore all options of living, not be confined to living the dorm life.