Housing contracts opened last month and are due on March 31st. As always, some residents are debating whether they’d like to return to on-campus living next year, between the cost and other pitfalls of dorming some think an off-campus apartment is a better option.
Personally, the convenience of dorming alone is worth the cost. While living on campus I don’t have to worry about buying and cooking food because that’s already taken care of. Additionally, since room and board are already apart of my invoice I only have to worry about my payment plan and a few other select Bills. Unlike off-campus apartments where each utility may be separate and have different due dates. Most importantly, living on campus allows me to take advantage of on-campus activities and late-night hours in the school’s libraries and other study hubs.
The chief complaint about on campus living is the cost. While I agree dorming is not cheap, I also think living on your own is never cheap. The most cost-efficient accommodation on campus is a quad on East coasting $8400 a year for a total of $12,748 when the Silver meal plan is factored in (Numbers from the StarRez portal 2018-2019 Housing Application). I have no doubt someone with roommates could find an apartment in Lowell where rent is cheaper, but when you account for food and other utilities any savings would probably be rendered insignificant. With so little savings it seems like the only thing off-campus apartments really do strip students of the convince found on campus.
This semester alone there has been a few extra surprises that have given rise to new reasons to leave campus. Certain events had raised concerns about student privacy and safety on campus.
Starting with the new mandatory RA One on Ones, that required RAs to conduct 15-minute individual conversations with at least 75% of their floor. At first glance, the new policy is just awkward and frankly a little demeaning. Then it was revealed that RA One on Ones is not confidential, and everything said is put in a STARs (Students at Risk) Report to be reviewed by UMass Lowell’s Behavioral Intervention Team. While the sentiment behind these changes came from a good place the result was an invasive program that made some residents and many RAs feel uncomfortable.
Then there was the break-in at Fox, or rather the walk-in at Fox, that many students weren’t made aware of even after the fact. In early February, a man was able to sneak into Fox Hall via the exit door. The security guard was unable to stop him due to a rule that required them not to leave the desk or to confront any intruder for their own safety. The man was reported to higher-ups in the building, but nothing was done about the man’s presence until he was found trying to pick lock the doors on the thirteenth floor. UMass Lowell Police Department was reportedly called by a 13th-floor resident, and the man was removed. No residents were hurt, but the incident did shine a light on a glaring problem with security in the residence halls.
While I share the concerns about these situations and what they mean for safety and privacy on campus I don’t think they are permanent problems. The school’s administrator has such a great track record of working with Student Government Association to learn what problems the student body are facing and making changes. From the smoke-free campus to last semesters advising reforms the school has been attentive to most everything students say. With such glaring issues as these, I have faith that the school is working to find a solution to ensure they will never be problems again.