Written by Maggie Samples // Photo by Balazs Balassa
Student Life announced a change to privileged housing on campus on March 14 in response to the student satisfaction survey that was administered last semester.
An email sent to female undergraduate students from the Office of Residence Life said the decision had been made for the 2023-24 school year to allow all of the Legacy Park Apartments to become rental apartments for off campus housing, while Shores Hall will become “upperclassmen housing by application,” and will not have curfew or require a meal plan. Currently, Shores Hall is an upperclassmen women’s dorm.
Privileged housing, according to the Residence Life Handbook, is available for students who are 20 years of age and have either 70 completed credit hours, are a third-year student with 50-59 credit hours, or are 21 years old with 27 credit hours. Currently, privileged housing options include some Legacy Park Apartments for women and Cone Hall for men. Qualifications to apply to live in Shores Hall include being a female student who will be 20 by Aug. 31 and will have completed 70 or more hours by the end of the preceding spring semester.
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Zach Neal said the change originated with the administration intentionally listening to student voices and areas of dissatisfaction.
“Every year, we give consideration to all of our policies, but I feel the surveys and focus groups indicate a very intentional campus-wide approach to listening to feedback,” Neal said. “The specific topic at hand had the goal of increasing the number of students who had the opportunity to live where there is no curfew or required meal plan.”
Neal said the change was well thought out and he understands it does not impact the whole student body, but he considers the change to be important for individual students.
“We are a residential campus, so there is an understanding that students will live on campus for the majority of their time at [Harding], allowing for an organic closeness,” Neal said.
According to Neal, Student Life intends to make changes and inform the student body, rather than waiting to inform in bulk about changes being made. There was urgency with the decision about Shores because of the fall housing selection process. The Student Life deans and Residence Life staff have continued to have conversations with students and combine the insight of the administration with the opinions of the students affected.
Neal said the next step in this process is to create student focus groups and hear the students’ ideas for improving Residence Life.
“We continue to evaluate our processes and expectations with the end goal of creating more opportunities for individual development while maintaining an emphasis on community and relationships,” Neal said.
Senior Lena Dallas said she was concerned about not being able to bring her friends with fewer hours with her to Shores Hall. Dallas said she thought the decision would push more people to live off-campus than before.
“I think I am for it,” Dallas said. “But I wish it was more like a case by case situation.”
Senior Camille Smith said she felt the change was overdue, but exciting for future upperclassmen.
“I wasn’t able to live in privileged housing for the fall semester of my senior year because [Legacy] was full,” Smith said. “It was not ideal to be a senior living in the regular on campus housing because many of my other friends were living in the privileged housing, so it was slightly disappointing to see them with a little more freedom and independence that privileged housing offers and not be able to experience that as well.”
The email from Residence Life said Legacy had 137 beds available for privileged housing this semester, while transitioning to Shores will allow for 198 beds.
Those who are interested and qualify to live in privileged housing can apply through Pipeline under the “Housing” tab.