Forcing students onto unaffordable meal plans and housing is wrong

Forcing students onto unaffordable meal plans and housing is wrong

Forcing students onto unaffordable meal plans and housing is wrong
August 08
16:36 2019

For most college students, living in a dorm with a roommate is common practice. It is a part of what our society normally associates with college.

But for the students who cannot afford to live on campus and pay for a meal plan, this is a prison sentence that can only lead to more student debt than what they can be prepared for.

Looking at UNT’s website, we can see the rates for housing and meal plans. Separately they don’t look too expensive for a per year arrangement, so why would there be a problem if it is so seemingly affordable?

The issue isn’t necessarily of affordability so much as necessity. All incoming freshman are required to have a meal plan, regardless of whether or not they want it or can afford it. 

Most college students don’t want to pay for something when it is forced upon them — I know I wouldn’t. 

Universities force students to live where they see fit, pairing them with people who might become their best friend or the worst person they have ever met. That seems like a lot of authority to have over a student, no matter the outcome.

Yes, breaking out of your shell and meeting new people is great for building character as a young adult, but also it can ruin some great times with great people if you as a student don’t have more freedom to choose where you live and with whom.

It still baffles me that college is a place in which you can explore, learn and push your boundaries, but UNT and most colleges set another boundary for students that create more of a metaphorical bubble. These bubbles can separate students from seeing and feeling the pressures of being truly financially independent and not being able to rely on anything but what you have available. 

Now I understand the benefits of requiring freshman dorms, I do. New students are more likely to make friends, especially through living learning communities available to students on campus. Living with your peers is like putting training wheels on students who are not completely ready to leave home, and as long as you start early on your housing application, you always have a place to live. 

Having said that, I do believe students should have the option to venture out on their own if they want or if they need to live at home. Students should never have to ask for permission from the university to stay at home and commute. That power shouldn’t be the in a university’s “hands” to tell someone where they have to live. 

If scholarship money is on the line, then the whole situation is different. I could get into the semantics of it all, but that would take way too long.

If a student is paying for tuition, they should have control over the other aspects of their financial lives. They should be able to find ways to save so that they can pursue their education. A student should have full autonomy over such a significant and personal decision like choosing where they want to live at the beginning of their adult lives.

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Nick Parkinson

Nick Parkinson

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