Student Services VP replies to freshman dorm policy

Following the article “Incoming freshmen must now live in dorms” in Thursday’s issue of the Daily 49er, we sought answers to some concerns that have been raised about the new policy mandating freshmen to live in residential housing during their first year of attendance. These are the unedited questions and answers e-mailed from Dr. Doug Robinson, the vice president for Student Services at Cal State Long Beach.

49er: What will be the consequences for students who meet none of the possible exceptions, but still don’t wish to live in residential housing? Will they be refused admittance, be unable to be matriculated, have holds placed on their registration, etc.?

DR: Research has long shown the advantages of living on campus during the first year of college. Advantages include greater psychosocial development, higher retention and graduation rates, greater overall satisfaction with the college experience, greater educational aspiration, and similar positive outcomes associated with student learning. We hope that all new Freshmen will understand the value of living in University housing and commit to their academic and personal success by choosing to live in University housing.

Historically, only a small percentage of CSULB Freshmen don’t live in University Housing or with their parents. We understand that circumstances exist that may preclude everyone from living on campus, hence the number of potential exemptions from the policy. The “Other” exemption category is purposely broad so that all students who have special circumstances which would create a substantial personal hardship which is exacerbated by living on campus can apply for an exemption from the requirement.

Students, who have not been granted an exemption, are not living at home, or who are under 22 will have a hold placed on their ability to register if they have not applied for housing, and paid the initial payment, by the time they attend SOAR.

49er: What if housing space exceeds capacity; will freshmen be forced to wait a year, be placed on a waiting list, or will the requirement be eliminated?

DR: We are excited that our Housing capacity has expanded with the addition of the Residential Learning College (RLC). The extra capacity gives us the opportunity to support Freshmen academic and personal success with the implementation of this policy.

The requirement will exist as long as space is available. Students will be placed on a waitlist if capacity is reached.

49er: If a freshman is opposed to being vaccinated for meningitis (not sure if H1N1 is required for residential) will there be some sort of ‘conscientious objector’ exemption?

DR: Students are referred to staff in Student Health Services. These medical experts make the determination if a student should be excluded from the meningitis vaccination requirement. To date we do not require that Freshmen receive the H1N1 vaccine prior to residency.

49er: What if a freshman living independently for the first time decides they don’t wish to live with strangers, has secured more affordable living accommodations (very important for low-income students), or thinks they won’t be able to fulfill their studies in a group living environment? Will they be penalized or barred from attending?

DR: All students will have the opportunity to apply for an exemption from the policy.

49er: There also are some socioeconomical concerns about this requirement that the Daily 49er article didn’t mention. I [opinions editor Duke Rescola] spoke with one independent-living low-income student who says they have a pretty healthy financial aid package, but wouldn’t be able to stay at CSULB if they had to live in residential because it costs more, especially with having to cover the meal plan.

DR: The cost of University Housing is factored into Financial Aid awards. If a student has a verifiable financial hardship, they are welcome to apply for an exemption.

49er: What about other low-income freshmen who might not find this reasonable within their budgets? Will the university or state increase their financial aid, or provide housing grants so they can attend CSULB?

DR: Again, the cost of University Housing is factored into the cost of attendance for Financial Aid and a student with a verifiable financial hardship is encouraged to apply for an exemption.

Douglas W. Robinson, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Services
California State University, Long Beach



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