We believe Butler University’s three-year on-campus residency rule needs to be repurposed to allow juniors to live off campus.
Our primary reasons for this argument lie in the institution’s ongoing housing crunch and the cost to live in Apartment Village.
There is no doubt Butler is going through a period of significant growth and change.
In three of the last four years, Butler has welcomed a class of more than 1,000 students, including an all-time high of 1,111 in 2012.
One of the few changes the university has been able to make in housing is working out a deal with Christian Theological Seminary to allow some Butler students to live in CTS apartments.
Administration has pointed out that the university’s master plan calls for at least one more residence hall in the near future.
Still, upperclassmen should have the option to get off campus starting their junior year in order to allow more room for freshmen and sophomores in on-campus residences.
While this would cost the university some money, we believe this is better than potentially being labeled a school that forces students into undesirable housing situations.
Two changes in athletic conference membership have accompanied Butler’s growth.
The conference membership changes alter our school’s peer institutions—schools Butler is comparable to and, in some cases, aims to be like.
Butler’s approximately 3,900 undergraduate students at the start of this school year count for the lowest number of undergrads among Big East Conference institutions.
However, eight of the 10 Big East institutions have fewer than 8,500 undergraduate students.
Still, these other schools have many more options for on-campus housing, not including Greek houses. And all of the other nine schools allow juniors to live off campus.
Villanova University, with an undergraduate population of approximately 7,100, boasts 26 on-campus housing options and allows all students to live off-campus.
Providence College, which has the closest undergraduate population to Butler’s at approximately 4,200, features 15 on-campus living options and allows juniors to live off-campus.
Only DePaul University has fewer on-campus living options than Butler, but DePaul’s website explicitly states it cannot guarantee on-campus housing, and the school allows all students to live off campus.
Butler has five on-campus living options and some apartment space at CTS, excluding Greek houses, and has always expressed a guarantee of on-campus housing for all.
This would be a more reasonable situation if juniors could live off campus.
Additionally, the cost of Apartment Village—which many juniors wind up living in—is too great to charge to students who are not left with many other housing options.
AV costs approximately $4,400 to live in per semester, according to Butler’s website. Furnishing and food purchases are not reflected in this cost.
Meanwhile, there were apartments off campus that could be rented for less than $400 per month for the 2014-2015 school year, before the cost of utilities is factored in.
If all Butler students that currently live on campus had no desire to move off it, keeping the current on-campus residency requirement in place would be fair.
However, when sophomores are signing leases for off-campus housing, there is clearly a desire for it.
We can respect the fact Butler ultimately has to make money to survive, and keeping all juniors on campus aids that goal.
But when the institution is attempting to grow and be comparable to other Big East schools, considerations need to be made.
We do not expect new housing complexes to pop up overnight. Therefore, reworking the on-campus residency rule would line up with Butler’s goals for the future, improve the school’s image and benefit its students financially.
Butler should not aim to be a mirror image of any other Big East school, but this is one area in which following suit would strengthen our school.
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