This article was updated on March 5 to clarify what year and class would be affected by this new policy. It was updated on March 11 to reflect current information about meal plans.
Earlier this year, housing and residence life unveiled a new policy regarding on-campus residency requirements. In addition to the preexisting freshmen on-campus residency requirement, sophomores will now also be required to live on campus and purchase a meal plan.*
Housing and Residence Life is looking to implement the project very quickly. Fall 2021 incoming freshman, as well as some sophomores who opted in, will be the first to experience this change.
In addition, transfer students with less than 60 credits will also be required to live on-campus for one full-year.
Sophomores that are not granted exceptions by housing and residence life will be guided into the University Suites ($7,086 yearly for a single or $6,682 for a double), Loggerhead and Terrapin Hall (both $9,000 yearly for a single, $8,000 for a double or $8,248 for a double deluxe), which are now being referred to as “sophomore experience halls.”
Students found violating this requirement will be reported to the dean of students as well as be charged for one full-year semester of housing and the residence’s default meal plan.
Upon implementation of the policy, UNC Wilmington will become the latest North Carolina school to require two-year residency, joining Elon University and the University of Western Carolina. Nationwide the idea of a two-year residency is becoming more widespread, with Ohio State University, Michigan State University and the University of Louisville all offering similar residency requirements.
“The university’s motivation for having a second-year requirement is similar to our motivation for having the one-year requirement, which is student success,” said Peter Groenendyk, housing and residence life director, when asked the university’s reasoning behind the decision. “Persistence and graduation rates are higher for those students who remain on campus. We have been building toward this over the past several years as we improved and developed new housing.”
Groenendyk also cited the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as an incentive to implement the policy now.
“We have all been challenged by COVID-19 [virus] in a multitude of ways, housing and residence life as a unit is no different,” said Groenendyk. “The second-year residency requirement presents us the best opportunity to recover and heal from what we have experienced. Students in their second year bring vibrancy and leadership to campus life, and we are looking forward to reclaiming all that makes UNCW special with them.”
Students who are going to be affected by the policy have a different take on its purpose, seeing the policy more as a way for the university to recoup financial losses.
“This is similar to someone extending your lease when you didn’t ask for it,” said Kaplan Aktas, a UNC Wilmington (UNCW) freshman. “Many people will be extremely upset that they are not being offered any form of compensation. The losses that they incurred from the pandemic somehow, and this is how they intend to do it.”
Julie Littlefield, another freshman, echoed the sentiments of Aktas.
“I feel like it’s also just a personal thing, something that shouldn’t really be up to the school,” said Littlefield. “We are supposed to be adults at this point, we can make our own decisions.”
The new policy comes with a long list of exceptions, such as for those that are typically considered “non-traditional students.” Students who are over the age of 21 or under the age of 17 by the first day of class, have active duty service in the United States Military, have legal dependents, are legally married or have a disability that complicates living on campus, are allowed to have the requirement waived by submitting a written appeal.
Students who reside with their legal guardians within New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick counties will be granted an automatic exception, without the need to submit an appeal or waiver application.
*A previous version of this article stated that sophomores will be required to purchase an All-Access meal plan. After receiving updated information from the university, on-campus students will be required to purchase a meal plan corresponding with their on-campus housing.