A college degree assists in landing a great job, being an alumnus of Trinity University grants unmatched connections, but three years in a campus dormitory threatens confusion and uncertainty after graduation. If we learn nothing else from our time here at Trinity, being comfortable with living in the real world seems like a minimum expectation for our effort and money spent here. As the model stands now, Trinity students have the option to live off campus their senior year. That leaves two semesters for students to become comfortable with living by themselves — in most cases for the first time ever of such a duration. Even then, it is more likely to still have roommates when you move off of campus senior year due to the price of housing.
Currently there are five buildings in which juniors can live on Campus, six if you include the fourth floor of McLean reserved specifically for upperclassmen. Trinity classifies the cost of housing under the category “living allowance” in their cost of attendance breakdown. The on-campus cost of living is credited at $13,136, while off campus supposedly costs $10,160. According to www.rentcafe.com however, the average rent in San Antonio is $916 a month overall, and between $900–$1,100 in the neighborhoods closest to Trinity. That means for a four and a half month semester the cost of an apartment then ranges from $4,050 to $4,950, still $5,000–$6,000 lower than Trinity’s off-campus estimate.
Trinity outlines their beliefs for a three-year residency requirement on the school website. Their reasoning is straightforward and understandable: living where you learn gets students more involved with Trinity. However, I believe it is the activities themselves that a student is involved in that keeps returning them to campus. Not once have I attributed my involvement on campus to the wonderful Beze dorm where I currently reside. Sure, accessibility to these organizations is convenient, but the motivation to continue participating on campus comes from one’s personal interests and desires that made them join that specific club, organization or position in the first place.
One of Trinity’s argument for on-campus housing is that “Trinity students learn outside of the classroom — to be independent, to develop healthy relationships, to experiment with who they are — all in a safe environment.” I challenge Trinity to take that statement one step further: to trust in their students. In turn, the model of independence that I believe can result from sooner availability to off-campus housing will return even more mature students to whom college applicants and universities alike will look to as stellar models of the Trinity experience.
Living off campus forces certain responsibilities that one cannot experience in a controlled university environment. Rent expenses, grocery shopping and transportation are but a few logistical hindrances that eventually all of us will be dealing with on a daily basis. Juniors who live in single apartments in City Vista, as well as seniors living off campus, understand these workings of real life and how to incorporate them into daily responsibilities.
As a first-year, I have no stake in this argument for two more years. Even then, I understand there is little progress that can actually be made in regards to changing the housing situation of an entire grade before I graduate. This should be proof enough that I uphold the idea of the greater independence offered by more freedom in housing options, and am not simply trying to obtain this boon for myself through campus publication. Independently living off campus simply aligns Trinity values with the real world, faster.