Like many people who read last week’s Record, we were inquisitive about the generalizations made by Bill Born in the article concerning four-year residency. Sure, he had a good point: community can be built on-campus. But this ignores other aspects of GC’s community, as well as the financial reality of living on-campus.It would be easy for us to merely launch into a rant about how this article made us feel like Born underestimates our intelligence. Born makes hazy claims about “a study that three or four students did a few years ago” that puts the on and off-campus costs at a comparable level. Forgive us for not having total faith in this study, but the state of our debt depends on it. Surely Born knows that this is Goshen College; we are smart, mature people who can do our own research. So that’s what we did.
To be thorough, we asked people from numerous off-campus houses to total the amount they pay for rent, utilities, internet and food. We then compared this average to the amount GC students will pay to live and eat on-campus in 2011/2012, according to the email sent to students from the GC administration. A total of 20 students responded to our request:
*One month of this is spent locked out of residences on Christmas break
We are baffled by how a difference of nearly $6000 could be considered “not as big as people think.”
Though leases are typically signed for a 12-month period, it would be ridiculous to assume that students simply abandon their houses and lose their rent money in the summer. Most students either live in Goshen or have someone else take their place during the summer.
Another issue that Born brought up was the use of alcohol at off-campus homes. In the article he said that “on campus or off campus, you’re going to get in hot water [for drinking] either way […] and sometimes the hot water off campus is going to be a much bigger deal.”
We would like to respectfully disagree. As young adults who are over 21, we don’t feel that it is GC’s job to monitor our consumption of alcohol off-campus, or judge our morals concerning a completely legal activity. GC has taught us the values of community, respect and common sense–just because we’re off-campus does not mean we suddenly forget these values. This was mirrored by the responses from the students we surveyed, who have never been in “hot water.”
Jacki Moser, a resident of Roof House explains why this is: “Just because we live off campus doesn’t mean we went crazy with alcohol or parties. It is like just because I received a tetanus shot doesn’t mean I am going to go step on a rusty nail.”
Off-campus students also noted that the issue of independence is significant. Another student living off-campus explains why this is important:
“As a young Mennonite adult I feel that I should have the right to practice frugality and independence in a way that is not allowed by forcing all students to live on campus. If college is supposed to help us enter the real world by forcing us to live in a defined space with expenses such as utilities and food taken care of, Goshen is not doing a very good job.”
As a part of the GC community, we hope that we can continue the conversation about this issue. Without dialogue, an unhealthy relationship is created between students and the administration. Liz Gunden, a resident of Canada House, reiterates this point:
“At the end of the article, Bill says that it’s not worth changing it now. We are supposed to be a college that promotes open thinking, peacemaking, etc. If this many people are upset about it and it is causing this much unrest, the administration should open their eyes to what the student body – the people paying for their education – has to say.”