Sophomores Wish for Optional On-Campus Housing

Students at Point Loma Nazarene University are required to live on campus for their first and second years of college, unless they are living at home with a family member or are doing a live-in work situation, according to Assistant Director for Housing, Molly Unverzagt. The reasoning behind this policy is to encourage students to engage in the PLNU community, said Unverzagt.

“When students live on campus, it is much easier for them to get plugged into the campus community,” said Unverzagt. “Research shows that when students are plugged into the community, they have a much better chance of thriving in their time at the university. This is why we require freshmen and sophomores to live on campus.”

However, second year biology student Audrey Murray, along with many of her peers, feel the requirement to live on campus is unnecessary.

“I understand requiring one year to get the Loma experience, but after that, I think it should be up to you to decide what is best for your education and mental health,” said Murray. “I personally would be fine living off campus this year because I’m pretty extroverted and go out of my way to talk to people.”

Second year sociology student Savanna Cuthbert also feels as if second year housing should not be required, but guaranteed if requested.

“They should guarantee housing for all sophomores, like they do freshmen, but [the housing department] shouldn’t force us to live on campus, especially considering on campus apartments aren’t an option sophomore year,” said Cuthbert.

A part of the requirement of living on campus includes paying for a cafeteria meal plan, which, according to Cuthbert, is both prohibiting and inconvenient.

“For me, it’s really important to be able to make my own food. I’m tired of eating the caf burgers and sandwiches every day for every single meal,” said Cuthbert. “It’s hard still not being able to cook for myself. I can’t even make pasta because there is no stove in the building I’m living in. I’m going to be 20 in January, and I can’t even go make myself a meal.”

The desire to live off campus goes beyond cooking, many chose to appeal for off campus housing for health reasons, whether physical or mental. Second year nursing student Lily Nyhof has lived off campus throughout her entire time at PLNU, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I thought [housing] would be fine with me living off campus [during] second semester considering we were in the middle of a pandemic,” said Nyhof. “I had a chain of like twenty emails with housing going back and forth with them denying my request. I eventually went to Dr. Gilbertson [Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life] and [he] said I needed to live off campus because we were in a pandemic and I didn’t want to put my health at risk. 

Murray, who just got approved for off campus housing, had a similar experience with the approval process.

“It was a lot of steps, I felt like I was jumping through hoops. I have anxiety, which was one of the reasons I wanted to move off campus, but it seemed like I was the one catering to housing’s needs, even though it felt like it should’ve been the other way around,” Murray said. Despite the long approval process, Nyhof is glad to be living off campus.

“I’ve been able to exercise my independence and have a lot of control over my free time,” said Nyhof. “For my mental health, it’s been really beneficial to be able to separate myself from campus sometimes, especially if I have to get work done, or just be productive. ”

While living off campus allows for students to take more control of their schedule and responsibilities, others still see on campus living as the ideal option socially.

“You can hang with your friends until whenever you go to bed, and the first thing you do in the morning is see them again,” said second year Young hall resident and chemistry major Sunny Chung.

While Cuthbert would prefer to opt into the off campus living experience, she also recognizes the effect dorm living has on community engagement.

“It definitely gets you to talk to more people,” said Cuthbert. “If you live off campus, it’s very easy to stay at your apartment or house. But if you are in the dorms, you are always around tons of people.” 

Cuthbert believes the solution of allowing sophomores to live off campus their second year would create a fair balance.

“If they implanted the idea of making on campus housing optional for sophomores next year, I’m sure they would still get a lot of people interested in living on campus,” said Cuthbert.

By: Kylie Capuano