A change in Midland Lutheran College's housing policy now will allow students to move off campus earlier than in the past.
The policy change will become effective at the beginning of the summer session, which gets under way at the end of the month. It will allow students enrolled at Midland to move off campus at the beginning of their junior year or when they turn 21 years old. They currently have to be a senior or 21 years old.
"It will be nice for them (students) to have that choice," dean of students Nicki McIntyre said.
McIntyre said there are various reasons for the policy change. One reason, she pointed out, was that many students' roommates or friends were turning 21 in the middle of the academic year, and had the opportunity to move off campus. The new arrangement will allow for others to move off with older friends, which will help when looking for housing in Fremont if students plan on having roommates.
Midland's five resident halls can house up to 560 students each semester. The halls are close to maximum capacity now, and McIntyre believes that trend will continue despite the policy change.
"We have many students who are seniors or 21, and they choose to stay living on campus," McIntyre said. "We have some decent things on campus for them to stay."
McIntyre said there are numerous advantages to living on campus, which is why many continue living in the dorms. Such advantages include the elimination of cooking with the dining hall option, not having to drive to school, and separate bills are all included in one package.
But the new policy is appealing to some sophomores, and several have started to look for off-campus housing.
Sophomore Laurie Tryon already has found a place to live. She said she is looking forward to living within the community, but probably will miss some of the benefits of campus life.
"There's a lot of good things and a lot of bad things," she said about moving off campus. "I'll have my own room, and some more privacy. I think it will be nice to cook for myself. I think I'll miss the closeness of walking, though."
Finding a parking space also may be difficult, but Tryon said she'll adapt.
Sophomore Silas Pera also plans to move off campus. He said more freedom to do what he wants is part of his reason for finding a home within the community.
"In the dorms, there are a lot of rules," Pera said.
Students currently pay $765 per semester to live in the dorms. With a dinner plan included, it costs about $1,040. Tryon said she will be able to save about $200 each month living off campus, which will be nice for paying a few other bills she has.
Pera agreed that he probably will be able to save a few dollars living off campus, but said there are other expenses he will now be paying, including food, cable and utility bills.
In addition to the housing policy change, smoking will be prohibited in the dorms, and all the campus buildings will be smoke-free. Students have been allowed to smoke in their rooms under special arrangements, which included having their doors shut and windows open.