Co-written by Jessica Jennings and Ryann Williams
Illustration by Gabrielle Rodriguez
Trinity boasts that its three-year residency requirement is because of a university effort to foster community. A student population of just over 2,500 would lead one to believe that a sense of community would be unavoidable, whether or not students live on campus for more than their first year. Living off-campus does not preclude a student from engaging in the Trinity community, but rather offers them the chance to engage in a greater San Antonio community as well. Furthermore, there are more financially sensible residential opportunities off of Trinity’s campus, which can relieve a significant amount of present financial strain or future loan debt for students. The three-year residency requirement seems to only serve to line the pockets of the university and reinforce the confines of the “Trinity Bubble.”
When broken down, the costs of living in a Trinity dorm equates to about $850 a month, accounting for the 10 months (roughly) out of the year that students stay in their rooms. This is a pretty steep price for a one-room living space with no kitchen, a shared bathroom and a roommate. For that same rate you can find an apartment space with an extra bedroom, kitchen, living room and amenities — not to mention a novel sense of independence and adulthood — and all of that’s half the price if you have a roommate! Sure, the dorms are nice for the most part, but it seems a bit devious for Trinity to rope 17- or 18-year-olds into signing up for such ridiculous living expenses for the next three years of their lives.
Furthermore, the ability to live off-campus opens up new avenues for community engagement. Living off-campus can encourage students to look to different spaces for studying, working or recreational activity. Trinity extracurriculars can often be positive opportunities for community building and developing hobbies and skills. However, it is shortsighted to believe that hobby groups, clubs and organizations don’t exist off campus or won’t be opportunities for us after we graduate. Exploring those avenues can help students to meet new people and give time, energy and engagement back to the San Antonio community.
Finally, living off-campus can be a novel personal experience. Whether community is important to you or not, the ability to make decisions for yourself and the space you occupy is a crucial part of the agency of adulthood. It is an ability we should be encouraged to flex, practice and expand during our college experience. Forcing students to live on-campus, under constant supervision and with strict policies regarding their own use of the space they are allotted, seems counter-intuitive to this process.
Living off-campus can be an opportunity to save money, develop independence and engage in the richness of the city we live in. The reasons defending the three-year requirement listed on Trinity’s website repeat notions of a rich campus life and extracurricular engagement, but these things are not limited to on-campus residents. Students can in fact have it both ways by living off-campus.