EDITORIAL: Housing fees should be equivalent to local rent

USF’s incoming freshman class this fall will be the first subjected to the University’s new mandatory on-campus residency policy, which will require the vast majority of incoming freshman to reside in on-campus housing.

The policy will ultimately propel USF’s resident student base to the minimum of 25 percent of the total student population required to attain Carnegie Institute “Primarily Residential” status. The Oracle reports that USF expects to add an additional 500 students to on-campus housing facilities, which will also increase the demand for on-campus services at USF.

The policy, however, is going to affect more than the University. The freshmen themselves will be required to pay the University for housing, instead of finding apartments with competitive rates nearby.

Housing at USF is rated per individual, and it varies depending on the size of the room in which the student lives. At current rates, the cost of living on campus is much greater than housing with roommates off campus.

A suite in Mu Hall will cost a student $682.50 per month, roughly the going rate of some single-bedroom apartments only minutes from campus. However, common areas and restrooms at Mu and other on-campus dormitories are shared with other students.

Shared rooms and community bathrooms may be a part of the college experience, but students could easily get more value for their money by living off campus.

Also, there will need to be an on-campus outlet for housing supplies and food that students may need outside of typical business hours.

There are intangible benefits to living on campus, evidenced by student productivity.

“The reason we are moving to mandatory housing for freshmen is that research shows that students who live on campus their freshman year typically complete more coursework, are more involved with their academics and the community, have a more favorable view of their college experience, and are more likely to graduate in a timely manner,” Tom Kane, director of University Housing, said to the Oracle.

However, if the University considers the benefits of living on campus valuable enough to charge rates that fail to compete with local housing options, it should allow students to decide whether those benefits are worth the price. If the University plans to continue requiring incoming freshman to reside on campus, it needs to reevaluate its housing prices to ensure that forcing students to pay these fees is an ethical decision.