Residence Life Unveils New Independent Housing Program
Liberty University upperclassmen will have the opportunity to experience on-campus living with certain off-campus freedoms through the Office of Residence Life’s Independent Housing Program for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Students accepted into the pilot program will live on East 40 or 41 and will be exempt from curfew checks and cleanliness checks. The program offers accepted students the same apartment-style dorms as every other East Campus building with the same prices based on a typical two-person or three-person bedroom.
The Independent Housing Program will be open to 180 students who are juniors or seniors by credit and have no more than 12 points on their record. Dustin DuBose, the executive director of Residence Life, said this program was developed to address the difference in maturity between older students and incoming freshmen.
“There’s obviously some growth and maturity that happens in the time that (students are) here,” DuBose said. “And so, the question we really started asking ourselves was, ‘What does that look like practically on the hall?’”
Under the pilot program, students are still required to check into Convocation with their building’s RA and not enter dorms of the opposite gender. However, DuBose said Residence Life is hoping to attract mature upperclassmen who do not need the boundaries of curfew and cleanliness checks.
“Do you really need someone checking up on you every three days if you’re cleaning?” DuBose said. “Do you need someone checking that you’re OK every night? Maybe not. Hopefully, juniors and seniors are mature enough to handle that.”
Sarah Faith Crozier, a junior nursing major who lives off campus, said she believes this program is a step in the right direction because older students should not need the same protections as younger students.
“I think that it’s a good move that Liberty is moving towards more freedom, especially for the older students, because your later years in college, you’re trying to get a feel for life after graduation,” Crozier said. “If you only live on campus … it’s really not preparing you for living with roommates in the city.”
DuBose said the program has generated a fair amount of interest among the student body. However, some upperclassmen disagree about the effectiveness of a program that provides older students with only some of the freedoms of off-campus life.
Rachel Noel, who moved off campus two years ago, argues that the program still enforces university rules that juniors and seniors should not have to follow.
“Putting people in this sheltered bubble kind of stifles how they will be as adults after college,” Noel, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, said. “Normal adults aren’t 22 and having someone … watch to make sure (your) boyfriend isn’t on the couch with you. I think it makes the transition from college to real world harder.”
In the spring semester of 2017, Residence Life flipped the order of housing registration, giving freshmen and sophomores priority in choosing a dorm. DuBose said the department changed the order since most underclassmen cannot live off campus and should be given priority in dorm selection.
Because of the change, Residence Life developed the Independence Housing Program to provide for juniors and seniors who would prefer to live on campus or have scholarships that require them to live on campus.
“We don’t want to push people off campus by any stretch of the imagination,” DuBose said.
Vanessa Scoulos, a junior who lives off campus, agrees that the program will be beneficial for students who would appreciate the freedoms of off-campus life but have to stay on campus due to scholarships.
“I know a lot of friends who choose to stay on campus as upperclassmen, because they have those scholarships that cover housing … and would lose them if they were to move off,” Scoulos said in a Facebook comment.
While Liberty’s housing program continues to evolve and offer more freedoms to students, the university still differs from many other private Christian universities in its enforcement of curfew and its policy regarding members of the opposite gender in dorms.
Regent University, located in Virginia Beach allows members of the opposite gender to be in dorms during the day, according to the Regent’s Residence Life Handbook. Wheaton College allows students of the opposite gender in dorms during open times multiple evenings a week, according to the 2017-18 Wheaton College Student Handbook. Students attending these universities also do not have a mandatory curfew.
Many students, like Noel, move off campus to avoid rules such as curfew, enforced Convocation checks and dorms closed to the opposite gender.
“If people move off, it’s because they want the freedom to have their boyfriend over dinner, or they want to skip (Convocation) because they need to do some homework,” Noel said.
DuBose believes the pilot program has the potential for expansion in both size and freedoms offered. Nevertheless, the program’s continuation beyond next year is dependent on how this first year goes.
“There’s no guarantee moving out of next year that we’re going to keep doing it,” DuBose said. “We’re going to look at how it changes campus culture and evaluate whether to continue as is, whether to try some different things, expand the numbers, or maybe say, ‘Hey, that didn’t quite work out how we intended.’”
The application for the program opens March 1 and closes March 16. Students who apply will be informed of their acceptance into the program April 9. Students interested in more information about the Independent Housing Program can email Residence Life at firstname.lastname@example.org.