A new program that requires San Diego State University’s non-local sophomores to live on campus has attracted opposition recently from students who are concerned with high costs and low transparency.
It is known to most as the Sophomore Success Initiative and will start requiring all sophomores to live on campus in fall 2019. As of now, only sophomores who are Guardian Scholars, Nursing, Honors College, non-California residents, student athletes or international students are required to live on campus, according to the SDSU housing website.
SDSU Director of Residential Education Kara Bauer said the program’s main goal is to promote higher GPAs and retention rates with amenities aimed at preventing “sophomore slump,” describing the struggle sophomores can have when they lose support and resources they had in their first year. According to the SDSU campus housing website, students who live on campus average a 2.81 GPA whereas their commuter counterparts average a 2.36.
"[There are] all these resources and programs in place to help support your transition to the university,” Bauer said. “Then after freshman year, a lot of students feel like, 'Okay, where did all that support go?'”
On top of higher GPA averages, the campus housing website said 30 percent of students living off campus were placed on academic probation compared with only 14 percent of residential students. Residential students also experience higher graduation rates and are more likely to graduate in four years.
Many of this year’s freshmen, such as marketing freshman Kylie Brown who organized a March 18 protest in opposition to the initiative, say the academic benefits do not outweigh the significant costs of living on campus. She said, including her meal plan, she is currently paying about $1,770 a month for a single bed space in a room with three people.
"I wouldn't have a problem living on campus the second year if the prices were lower and it was suitable housing, because it's really not,” Brown said, saying she has an issue with the amount of sophomores who will be placed in dorm-style living.
While many students were under the impression sophomore housing would be mostly apartments, undeclared freshman Malachi Bielecki said some of his friends were placed in dorm-style rooms that were previously reserved for freshmen.
Bauer said these spaces were initially designed for sophomores but have primarily served freshmen until now.
In response to what Bielecki described as a “lack of transparency,” as well as other perceived issues with the initiative such as the expense and lack of apartment-style units, students created an online petition that has gathered over 2,000 signatures. But, Bielecki said he is not convinced it will do much.
“I think ultimately it probably won't make a difference, but I think it's important for the school to realize that people are unhappy about the situation,” Bielecki said.
In a statement from the university, SDSU said it respects the right of students to peacefully protest but that they ultimately stand by the goals set out by the initiative.
“The development of Sophomore Success Program was informed by a growing body of research indicating that students who live on campus are better prepared academically, enjoy an increased sense of community and campus connectedness, and graduate at faster rates than those who do not,” the university said in a statement.
This report was a collaboration between NBC 7 and the SDSU School of Journalism and Media Studies.