The incoming Class of 2024 College of Architecture & Environmental Design and College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences students will be required to live on campus during both their freshman and sophomore years.
Sophomores will not be required to purchase a Campus Dining meal plan. All returning students can apply for a residential parking permit.
Sophomores will live primarily in the Cerro Vista Apartments or Poly Canyon Village Apartments, according to University Housing. North Mountain rooms may also be used to house sophomores.
Student athletes and participants in the Cal Poly Scholars program are already required to live on campus during their second year.
University Housing cited improved student retention and academic progress as the main factors for the change.
“The benefits are many, the negatives are few. The data both from Cal Poly and nationally are clear that on average students who are on campus for their first two years are more likely to stay enrolled and more likely to graduate on time,” President Jeffrey Armstrong said in his March campus address.
Data from 2016 showed students who live on-campus both years are two percent more likely to stay until their third year than students who move off-campus their second year. Architecture students have the biggest change, with a difference of 5.67 percent. The study, however, has been criticized for using “inconclusive data.”
Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) student government is firmly against the change, arguing that the differences in retention could be caused by other correlative factors, such as wealth or the generation of a student. Cal Poly Scholars, for example, receive financial aid and support services, and are required to live on campus for both years, so they are more likely than off-campus students with income under $80,000 a year to succeed. Wealthier students, also, are more likely to live on campus than students who face financial difficulty, who already have difficulty staying in school.
ASI passed a resolution against the policy in 2016 which read, “Those likely to live on campus a second year cannot be directly compared to those that choose to live off-campus. Additional factors such as GPA, major, and socioeconomic status cannot be ignored in an appropriate statistical study.”
Some Academic Senators expressed concern with the policy at a Feb. 11 Academic Senate Meeting.
“Those students who are scrappy students who are trying to make their way to be first-year or first-time degree students are going to be pushed in a system where they are going to leave with debt. And the accessibility of a Cal State system is something we are drifting away from,” chemistry professor and Cal State Fullerton graduate Eric Kantorowski said. “I never could have gone to Cal State if this was the situation.”
Administrators have proposed other benefits to the policy. Armstrong said in his address that housing students on campus will improve the campus’ relationship with the city and will reduce the cost of off-campus housing by increasing supply to the housing market.
In addition, at the Feb. 11 Academic Senate meeting, Housing Director Jo Campbell said housing students on campus and will help pay off the debt incurred by building Cerro Vista and yakʔitʸutʸu.
San Diego State University enforced the same policy last year, and UC Merced this year. Ohio State did in 2016, and the student paper at Northwest Missouri State University said their college’s policy, which was discussed in 2014, was considered to increase federal funding, which recently had been tied to performance indicators like retention and graduation rates.
Cal State Monterey Bay has required sophomore housing since their 1994 creation.
In 2014, before Cal Poly’s freshman living requirement, only 87 American colleges required on-campus living at all according to IPEDS data gathered by the Washington Post.