Abolish Morehead State University's Mandatory Housing Policy
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Getting a higher education is now a fundamental part of a young person's life. Being from Eastern Kentucky, the limitations to receive that education is often barred by the poor economy that has stricken this area.
Morehead State University, despite its location in the epicenter of some of the poorest counties in the state, has allowed a "Mandatory Housing Policy" that forces all students who are 21 or younger or have less than 60 credit hours to pay $2,500 MINIMUM per semester to stay on campus. With tuition costing $4,265 per semester, students from this area struggle to pay for these costs. According to the college, "if a student chooses to attend MSU, there is an assumption that he/she has the financial resources to pay for it. It is expected that students fully utilize all loans available to them." However, their mission statement includes these points, "As a community of lifelong learners, we will educate students for success in a global environment...(and) serve our communities to improve the quality of life." According to the report released by the Office of Research & Policy Analysis titled Student Load Debt in Kentucky and published in October 2015, the average amount of student debt was $25,607. The same report also concluded that the people researched in the years 2012-2013 had incomes ranging from $19,597 to $43,848 per year. Let me make the point clear here that trying to pay off your student debt in a reasonable manner would take several years, considering the costs of living, steady rise in tuition, and loan interest.
However, MSU offers a housing waiver process, which I find embarrassing to apply for. If you are married, live within 50 miles of the campus (and ONLY with a parent/legal guardian), or have children, then you are supposed to easily be granted a waiver. They claim to not allow students with disabilities, financial hardships, or special circumstances to be issued a waiver because the university claims it will do everything to accommodate all needs, and that the waiver will only be approved if "reasonable accommodations are not available". When I applied for my waiver last year, I had to provide revealing information for the sake of being released from housing. Under HIPAA, my sensitive medical information is protected, but without my knowledge, personal information had to be passed around in a committee just to have my case reviewed. I had to undergo these embarrassing trials because having a 24/7 nurse aid for a parent is not an option for me. I MUST take care of my family. Given the high cost of healthcare and the lack of good psychiatric or home health care, many students find themselves struggling to take care of their families, and they can't leave family members behind. Many will become their sole caretakers, especially in the wake of the Obamacare's abolition.
However, MSU has also been lying to students about dorms being cheaper than off-campus housing. In the fall, my home was foreclosed and my family was forced to move out. I was able to find a home off-campus to support my family in little time. Currently, the cost of living I pay is half of the cheapest housing option, and that includes utilities and internet. Simply telling students it is "cheaper to live on campus" and that "students get the full college experience" are two false statements. I am able to walk to campus everyday, and I have access to dining, to games, to events, and I even participate in the newly formed Morehead State Gaming club, which I am the Vice President of. I do not miss out on opportunities to enjoy being a student. I simply had an obligation to my family. The college also argues that your education is hurt by living off-campus. However, I currently have a cumulative GPA of 4.0 and have been on the Dean's List in the College of Science. My education is not suffering from my living arrangements, but I do believe that the other students who are forced to worry about finances and family arrangements while being trapped in a dorm are suffering.
As a last point, some students also complain about unreasonable living standards. It is not uncommon to walk the campus and find posters with protests about black mold or various insect infestations in certain dorm halls. While I cannot confirm these reports, many students feel that the quality of some of the older dorms and the threat to their health is a concern that needs to be addressed.
I chose to come to a great school in a region of the USA that often receives a cold shoulder. This is a community I hope to improve and make better for future generations, and I believe that the education offered at MSU can help do that, but I do not agree that the financial burden of a housing policy that charges students inflated prices is the right way to make rural Kentucky boom. Every student should try to find what helps them the most, and if driving from home is how they achieve that, then so be it, but forcing them to pay for living arrangements they do not need is ridiculous and demeaning to young adults. We live in a modern society where education is necessary and should be not be made impossible by costs that hinder the growth of our state and community. With the induction of Dr. Joseph Morgan as our 14th President this summer, I hope he will see the injustice that putting unnecessary financial burden on young people does to our struggling economies.
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