On Oct 25, 2018, Plymouth State University announced changes to its on-campus housing policy that will likely force the vast majority of students to live in campus housing for at least one extra year. Students have voiced their disapproval of these policy changes. While we are disappointed by the handful of students who reacted with incivility, the PSU-AAUP supports those students who have opposed this new policy through civil discourse and the signing of an online petition.
We understand that, on Oct 14, the administration of Plymouth State University informed the Student Senate of the new policy, and explained the decision based on financial concerns. The original policy was to be announced on Oct 15, but the Student Senate asked for a week to consider it and provide feedback. Although feedback and suggestions for change were provided at the next meeting, the administration proceeded to enact essentially the original policy.
Despite administrative statements about the “educational value” of living in residence halls and the goal of developing “a world-class living, learning community,” it is obvious that this decision was a hasty one, made at the highest levels of the administration, and based entirely on financial concerns, which are now to be passed on to students.
We fear that the short-sightedness of this new policy will result in a variety of significant, long-term problems. Students selected our university with the understanding that they could transition out of dorm life after their sophomore year, and they regard this transition to independent living as an integral aspect of their college experience. With many current students already stating they are considering not returning next year, the impacts on student retention and recruitment could be extensive. Additionally, as advisors, we are concerned students will feel unable to make appropriate academic decisions, such as withdrawing from classes, because they will be worried about dropping below the 64-credit threshold. Too, faculty have traditionally advised students to take 15 credits per semester, meaning students could be punished for doing exactly what their academic advisors counseled them to do.
We believe this off-campus housing policy is the result of poor planning and a decision-making process that did not envision consequences, consider alternatives, or properly consult those it would impact most. The PSU-AAUP therefore urges the administration of Plymouth State University to honor the original terms of the campus housing policy given to currently enrolled students. We further implore the administration to develop other options for encouraging students to remain in campus housing, and to both seek and incorporate their feedback in the crafting of a new policy