The University of Oklahoma's laudable goal to increase retention among freshman students is overshadowed by its intrusive new policy to require all freshmen living in Norman to now live in on-campus housing. The university has come under deserved fire from parents and legislators alike after tightening its policy requiring freshmen to live on campus.

In the past, students who lived in the Norman area were exempted from the policy, but this year exemptions are being given only for medical or religious reasons or for families meeting low-income requirements.

College education expenses in Oklahoma have risen nearly 40 percent in the last few years when you combine the tuition and fees increases and the housing and meal plan expense increases.

One of the perks for families living in college towns like Norman or Stillwater is they get somewhat of a break on expenses for on-campus housing. It makes sense for freshmen coming in OU or Oklahoma State University from out of town and long distances to be required to live on campus their first year.

However, if a family lives in Norman, they should be able to exempt their child from that on-campus requirement if they choose.

OU stands to make quite a bit more money by making Norman-area freshmen live on campus. Some families say the new rules will cost them another $6,000 to $8,000 a year.

The university is basing its new policy on information that shows students are more likely to remain in college if they feel a part of the university community. OU believes living on campus as a freshman -- even if your family home is only five miles away from campus -- helps student retention.

We believe motivated college students will find a way to become connected to the campus community through activities, no matter whether they live on campus or not. If a student wants to be a part of the activities and community, he or she will do what it takes to be active, without the on-campus living requirement.

OU needs to back off this new policy and leave exemptions in place for those freshman students who live within a reasonable commuting distance.



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