As a first-year who was forced to live on campus who would have preferred the option to live off campus and commute, I am responding to the column printed Feb. 13, 2019 entitled “NC State should let first-years live off campus”. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment seeing as there are far more freshmen admitted each year than there are beds for, and that number continues to grow. Of those admitted freshmen, there are quite a few students admitted who are from Raleigh, surrounding cities and the suburbs of the triangle that are willing and able to commute from home, thus clearing beds for upperclassmen. However, as noted in the column, only first-years who live in a 15-mile radius from campus are exempted from the requirement to live on campus.
While I understand that the university's requirement is in the interest of freshmen, how are the interests of students who are of special cases such as international status, out of state students or other cases that would be eased if access to campus housing were more accessible to students after their first year being observed? Yes, there are apartments and houses for rent close to campus, and yes it could be said that a lot of upperclassmen would rather live off campus anyway, but what about those who are struggling to make ends meet because they could not obtain housing through the university that scholarships or financial aid would help finance?
As someone who works closely with Feed the Pack, an organization on campus dedicated to easing the burden of food insecurity on students, faculty, and staff affiliated with NC State, I see firsthand the struggle some students encounter in trying to make ends meet. I cannot help but wonder if the volume of students that utilize the services provided by Feed the Pack could in part be attributed to the higher cost of living associated with upperclassmen having to live off campus. Students who face such hardships would be better able to focus on their academics and preparing themselves for the job market and when University Housing is no longer an option at all if there were not the stress of finances and by extension of food insecurity created by the sheer volume of students that are forced to live on campus as freshmen that are willing and able to do otherwise.
I urge the university to re-examine its policy requiring freshmen to live on campus for the sake of the livelihoods of upperclassmen who may not have access to sustainable or viable alternatives to housing on campus. There are certainly other factors to consider when making decisions regarding policy. However, it seems that there is enough unrest on the subject that a re-evaluation could be in order to encourage the success of all students at NC State, not just incoming students.
Warm Regards, Kayla Driver
Kayla Driver is a first-year studying agriculture and life sciences.