The incoming freshmen class at Mercer University will be expected to live on campus for three years of their college career.
Currently, students are required to live on campus for their first two years and can choose whether they will continue to live on campus for their last two years at Mercer.
Jeff Takac, Director of Housing and Residence Life, said that beginning in the fall of 2012, Mercer freshmen will have to live on campus for three years.
Kelsie Romaine, a student worker on the Special Events Team for admissions, said that she was told about this change during the admission team’s annual training this past August.
Because the Lofts at Mercer Village will continue to be considered on-campus housing, Mercer residence halls have enough rooms to house freshmen, sophomores and juniors, Takac stated.
Mercer University is hoping to become a more residential college with this change.
Takac said that students are often less involved in university activities when they live off campus, because they do not want to come back to campus to participate in university events.
Romaine said that potential students like Mercer because it is an involved campus, where students, faculty and their families participate in university events together. She said that telling students that they have to live on campus for three years further promotes a feeling of community.
According to Mercer’s website, universities with students living on campus have higher retention and graduation rates.
This vision is similar to Furman University’s decision to implement a four-year campus residency requirement.
According to their website, this requirement was implemented “with the understanding and hope that students who lived on campus all four years would get more from their college experience.”
Jason Cassidy, Director of Housing and Residence Life at Furman, understands that students can find cheaper off-campus housing, but there are other variables to consider.
Romaine, who has lived on campus for the past three years, said that one of the most important variables to consider is safety. She said, “Macon is not the best community to live in, but I find that on campus I feel secure and safe.”
Romaine also prefers living on campus because of the convenience. She is able to take a larger course load, hold two on-campus jobs, and be a member of a sorority because she is within walking distance of all these activities.
Since Furman and Mercer are comparable in size, Takac believes that Furman’s success with a four-year residency requirement is a good indication that it will also be successful at Mercer.
Takac and Mercer administration said that this change will be used as a selling point for the parents of perspective students because more students will be on campus during campus tours and visits.
Romaine also said that this new on-campus residency requirement has become a selling point for potential students, because their parents prefer the safety and accessibility that come from living on campus.
Currently, there are no definite plans for requiring students to live on campus for four years, but Takac thinks it is a possibility in the future.
During the admissions team’s annual training, Romaine and the other student workers were told that this change may eventually lead to a four-year residency requirement, but nothing can be confirmed.
Currently, many juniors and seniors choose to live off campus because of Mercer’s ban on alcohol. Takac said that if students are required to live on campus for four years, then the university will be open to flexibility.
Students are allowed to keep alcohol in the Lofts, and Takac does not see why this policy would change.
According to information provided by Cindy Drury, Assistant Director of Campus Life, 2,240 students are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program at Mercer.
Mercer currently offers several options for on-campus housing.
According to the Office of Housing and Residence Life at Mercer, these options include traditional style dorms with community bathrooms, suite style dorms with a shared bathroom, apartments and the houses in Greek Village.
Because of the on-campus options available for students, Mercer only needs about 200 to 300 more beds to house the entire student body, said Takac.
The university will provide a lottery system for juniors who would prefer to live off campus.
This will allow seniors who want to live on campus the opportunity to do so, while providing some juniors with the option of living off campus.