Residence is the heart of any campus.
From increased participation in clubs, student government and on-campus volunteering, to campus jobs and even more frequent visits to the Den, rez kids are demonstrably more involved in university life. They care more about the institution, because it's not just the route to their degree, it's their home as well.
For a commuter campus like the U of C, the importance of getting students more involved in this place is obvious. Most of us come here by car or train before our first class, and leave the same way immediately after our last. Most of us won't even read these words, we just can't be bothered.
Recent changes proposed to the rez enrollment model for next year will partially address this issue. The plan is to guarantee rez space for all first-years, and increase space for graduate, international and transfer students. The problem is the increases come at the expense of returning students--to the tune of 140 less beds. The current lottery system to decide who gets one of the valuable spots will remain in place, but the actual number of second, third and fourth year students in rez is dropping by nearly a third.
While it's commendable--and consistent with a number of other Canadian universities--to guarantee rez for first-years, the plan carries too high a price. University involvement should be an ongoing process. There's no incentive to stay involved in the campus community if you know you won't be back again next year.
Furthermore, the process for developing the enrolment strategy highlights a number of long-standing criticisms that have been leveled against both Residence Services and U of C administration. The decision was made behind closed doors, without student input. Only after it became apparent that word was out did rez services mention student consultations. It is doubtful that the now-planned consultations will significantly impact the plan.
The plan should hardly come as a surprise to anyone paying attention around here--like rez students. There will be more space for graduate students (always a priority), high-paying international students (cha-ching) and new students (needed to hit the university's long-range growth goals). Continuing undergraduate rez students--who currently are the heart of campus--will have to move over.
Sounds like business as usual at the U of C.