Up and Out: Dorm Price Increase Impacts Student Living
For the 2020-2021 academic school year Southwestern University has announced an $120 average increase for students living on campus. This $120 could help college students pay for school supplies, textbooks, access codes, and many more day-to-day expenses the average college student must tend to.
What does this increase say to college students and how are they feeling about their living situation with the sudden increase in cost of living?
“It is very scary to me,” Sophomore Caylee Brockman said. “It is not even just for me, but thinking about future students, they are going to have to pay a ton. To think we pay so much now and they will have to pay even more is really scary.”
The College Board has reported an average annual increase in cost of higher education of 3.4%. This percentage itself increases annually adding hundreds of dollars to accessing higher education each year while the minimum wage that many college students earn has not increased for almost 11 years. This, in addition to mandatory campus living required of all students up to sophomore year, creates a large boundary for lower income students interested in higher education when it comes to pursuing their choice.
“It is honestly so ridiculous,” sophomore Nicole Rajtak added. “I mean, I know it is not only Southwestern doing this, but these capitalist tactics are ingrained in each part of our lives and it is unfortunate and unfair to see that as prominently as we do on campus.“
It is important to remember the impact that this has can be even greater for non-traditional and international students. These increases can affect them differently than the average college student.
“I mean, for one, since I am an international student, every dollar adds 70 in the currency that I pay,” First-year Keya Matthew said. “So it is a big deal to me when they add increases like this. If they are making campus living compulsory, then why make it more expensive and less available to the average student?”
“If the price continues to increase like it is, it’ll create an even more unfair disadvantage for those who already struggle to pay for college, and a quality education should be accessible for anyone,” added Sophomore Brooke Guthrie. “I also despise capitalism. As an environmental studies major, my main takeaway so far has been that the effects of capitalism are not only hurting people who are not on the top of the social hierarchy, but destroying the environment we rely on for everything we do.”
For first-years this increase seems even more problematic and frustrating. With first-years not having an option to live off-campus next semester they are forced into paying this increase despite any personal financial problems.
“This just adds to the frustration of figuring out how to exist in a space that I am forced to be in,” First-year Coleen Roche said. “I love that Southwestern is pushing to be a residential campus and to make student life a holistic experience, but if they want it to work and for students to be receptive to their efforts, they need to drastically lower housing costs, not gradually increase them until nobody can afford it.”
The recent increase in housing costs is just a small part of a much bigger problem. Many students are analyzing what these increases mean and how they are harming the student body and the larger society. They feel the need to continue to educate themselves on these issues in order to make fully informed opinions, and take the action deemed appropriate for an issue as complex as how capitalism manifests on college campuses.