BU’s New Two-Year Dorm Policy

Noah Atkins, Ron James, and Edward Heckler

Bloomsburg University recently released a new requirement for freshman. They are required to stay on campus of two years.

According to Bloomsburg University Fast Facts, in 2018 there were 1,848 freshman that attended Bloomsburg. In 2019, there was a 73.9% freshman-sophomore retention rate.

While some students enjoy the dorm lifestyle and don’t mind this rule, others don’t prefer it and would rather live elsewhere. This new requirement turned heads considering the timing of when it was implemented. With COVID-19 still being a factor, the university had to send most its freshman home last year. BU lost a lot of money and people feel that this new rule might’ve stemmed from that.

James McCormack, associate vice president of student development and campus living, said development functions went into this decision.  “Revenue is part of the story but there are more important things to it,” McCormack said. McCormack and the University believe that living on campus gives students a better overall value.

The University is making this change based on data that shows benefits when students live on campus. “We know from national data that the overall GPA of students increases as a result of living on campus,” McCormack said. He also stated that the ability to graduate goes up by 14 percent when students live on campus.

According to Thomas Fletcher, BU’s Vice President of Enrollment Management, there is no correlation with this rule and last year’s Covid outbreak. The university has been discussing the possibility of this new rule for several years and it just happened to get done now.

When asked how this rule came about and why Bloomsburg felt that this was something they needed to do, Fletcher stated, “It’s a national model at a lot of institutions, and in the last 10 years, staying on-campus numbers support that staying on-campus for two years has retained more students the following year and students are more likely to stay in school for their third year.”

Fletcher also said he has received a lot of positive feedback from parents saying they are thrilled, and it makes them more comfortable sending their kids to school now.

When talking to Grant Bach, one of the freshmen who is affected by this new rule, he did not hesitate when expressing doubts about the change. “I was definitely looking forward to living off campus after my freshman year, so I was a little disappointed to see this change.”

To Grant however, this change did not make enough of an impact to have him change his mind about coming to Bloomsburg University. This opinion was not shared by Jamal Washington, a senior at BU who said that if he were subjected to the new regulations, he would not have come to Bloomsburg.

“I probably would not have come to Bloomsburg if I would have had to stay on campus for another year simply because of the price,” Jamal said. According to the Bloomsburg University website, a standard two-person dorm cost $3,554, Soltz Hall costs $4,648, and to live in the off-campus housing BU provides would be $4,519 for Montgomery Apartments. In comparison, these prices could be considered high for off-campus housing.

One thing that both Grant and Jamal both said when asked why they think BU decided to change their requirements was simple, money.

Not everyone, however, is upset about the changes. Isabella Salvatore, a sophomore at Bloomsburg, was not part of the requirements as she was a freshman in Fall 2020, but still decided to stay on campus this year voluntarily.

“Even though I didn’t have to stay on campus, I decided that I wanted to because of how convenient it is to have everything nearby,” she said. She also referenced the fact that this would not have affected her decision to come to BU because she wasn’t in a rush to live off-campus.

Another freshman being affected by this new rule is business major Cole Bradley. He stated he personally isn’t a fan of the new requirement. He said, “I don’t mind living on campus and in the dorms, but I was excited to be able to live somewhere else and have my own room with my own bed bigger than a twin size.”

Freshman Sean Flatley, from Lansdale, PA said, “I wasn’t too sure if I was going to stay on or off campus but the fact that we are in college and can’t make that decision for ourselves is disappointing.”

Community Assistants, or CA’s, in dorms are hearing the chatter in the halls as well. Elwell CA, Molli Serdock stated that she has heard the complaints and said that all the freshmen seem very annoyed and bothered by it.

There will be a way to be exempt from this rule in the future, but it won’t be easy. Commuters and students with medical problems prohibiting them from living in the dorms can be exempt, but BU is trying to keep students in dorms to keep them safe and focused on school. The university believes that this new rule is the way to do it.

Bloomsburg University has made it clear that this change is here to stay, and they feel it’s truly for the best. BU will see in due time how this new rule will ultimately affect and impact the university overall.