dorm room

The inside of a dorm room at Oakland Hall on the Evansdale campus. 

Dorms give freshman students the chance to come home to their roommates naked in their rooms, see floormates flossing in public restrooms and listen to the person in the next shower sing a rousing rendition of “Oops!..I Did It Again.”

There’s no privacy, nothing but dorm food and no way to use the bathroom without someone overhearing.

An attractive offer indeed.

Right now, freshmen do not have any choice in living accommodations as WVU requires all freshmen to live on campus, with a few minor exceptions such as for students who live nearby.

Without the University’s residency mandate looming over their heads, freshman students would be able to consider a variety of places to live. They would be looking at the housing market as an assortment of different living situations competing for their favor- dorms included.

This raises the question: can the dorms really compete?

On the current housing market, a prospective renter can find apartments in Morgantown for as low as $440 per month, all utilities included.

Students would have access to a private bedroom, a one-person bathroom, a shower, a kitchen, most likely with a microwave and oven, a living room and all the utilities they need to eat, drink, stay warm and study for only $440 a month.

Offers just like this are available in multiple locations with transport options for commuting between campus and home.

Look at a dorm, and the price skyrockets. To get an average amount of comfort and privacy, you’ll probably be looking at a two-person dorm in Towers on Evansdale.

That room would be $6,172 for just eight months of the year, meaning that students pay $771.50 a month.

That’s about $330 more than what a student would pay for an off-campus apartment.

Paying hundreds more in expenses, students get the privilege of being practically stacked on top of one another in their bedroom, sharing a bathroom and shower with everyone on their floor and not having a kitchen at all. The floor’s dingy, nylon-carpeted public lobby will have to suffice as a living room.

What a privilege. To pay more and get less, all because the University said you have to.

On the other hand, a student living in an apartment could take the several hundred dollars a month in savings and buy groceries with some still left for eating out and a night on the town.

It’s not an impractical idea, and it’s not unprecedented. The University of California, Davis currently allows freshmen to live or rent off-campus, estimating that they save upwards of $5,000 per year.

WVU doesn’t need to nanny its students. They’re adults, fully capable of understanding the advantages and drawbacks of any living situation.

The dorms come with some positives, like being able to socialize with other first-years. But it’s not enough to justify a mandatory stay, especially considering what you get for what you pay.

The freshmen dorm requirement creates a big financial hurdle for the first year of college, bigger than it has to be. The costly mandate is hardest on those struggling to pay for school. Let them save a little money, instead of paying for dorms that operate like subpar apartments, with living standards that might be frowned upon in other developments.

Let freshmen live where they want. If the dorms are worth the money, they will have no trouble competing with rentals.