The Corner

Politics & Policy

Students Should Not be Compelled to Live on Campus

Many colleges and universities have policies that compel students (usually only freshmen and sophomores) to live on campus. Should they?

In today’s Martin Center piece, professor Douglas Oliver argues that they should not. Although schools justify their mandates as an essential part of “the university experience,” Oliver finds that to be a weak argument. Many students would prefer more privacy than dorm living allows and to be free of the ideological hectoring that colleges often visit upon them as a part of their “residence life” programs. Moreover, there’s the matter of cost. Off campus living might save a student several thousand dollars per year.

The case against such policies is particularly strong in North Carolina, Oliver argues. That’s because the state constitution provides that higher education is to be provided “as free of expense as possible.” Forcing students to live in more costly campus dorms is hardly consistent with that. He concludes, “The on-campus living requirements enacted by North Carolina’s state universities provide questionable educational benefits. Yet, they create a substantial burden on some students—hurting them economically and, likely, restricting their constitutional rights. Rather than expanding the mandates in the UNC system, they should be abolished.”

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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