Students: staying on campus builds community

Senior Resident Advisor Hannah Krull, left, with freshman Morganne Faler. Photo by Alyssa Eby

By Alyssa Eby

Some Bluffton University students are concerned the campus can feel empty on the weekends, even though the university housing policy requires most students to live on campus.

The university housing policy requires all undergraduate students to live on campus in resident housing unless they chose to live at home. Students who are married or have children are permitted to live off campus, within a specified radius to campus. Senior Hannah Krull of Lewisburg, Ohio, is the resident advisor (RA) on third floor of Hirschy Hall is concerned about the possibility of lower retention and a loss of campus community when on campus students go home frequently.

She attributes some of the depletion to athletic events on Saturdays.

“Depending on what sport season it is, about a fourth to half of the residents on [my] floor go home or are participating in a sporting event,” Krull said of her floor. “There are about a handful of students that are not associated with a sport that tend to go home just about every weekend.”

Krull, who was also an RA as a sophomore and junior, said she often doesn’t see a clear divide between the groups who stay and go. Strong relationships, she said, are a pattern she has observed among those who stay.

“I do feel that the girls that tend to stay on the weekends have a strong connection and friendship with one another,” she said. “I also feel that it is harder for the floor to get to know everyone when people leave campus all of the time on the weekends and that it kind of hurts the retention rate. But at the same time, the students that are there on the weekends are enjoying themselves and have fun to where I think it does not always bother them as much.”

“Weekends can get boring with a majority of people gone,” said freshman Carli Dillon of Gallipolis, Ohio. “Sometimes it can be difficult to find someone to hang out with or go to dinner with.”

Krull’s advice for students who stay on campus? Attend weekend events and intentionally find people to go to dinner with. Some more practical benefits also exist for those who stick around.

“An empty campus can be helpful when I need to work on homework,” Dillon said. “You don’t have to hear the music down the hall or other girls yelling.”

All students are invited to participate in Marbeck After Dark (MAD) events on Friday nights. These events vary from T-shirt tye dying to comedy shows. MAD events are designed to foster relationships among on-campus students.

Michelle Miller, a sophomore from Dundee, Ohio, rarely goes home.

“My roommate and I were often the only friends we had on campus last year,” Miller said. “But that might be why her and I became so close.”

RAs are expected to encourage the students on their floors to attend the various campus events. RAs are also given a specific amount of money each semester to plan and produce activities for their floor.

“As an RA, I do feel like I am trying to produce activities that help out both groups,” said Krull.

Student Life staff  and RAs are responsible for planning and hosting events and activities for students during the week and on weekends. Students who leave campus most weekends remove themselves from the activities that could bring them closer to their classmates and hallmates. The students who rarely leave for weekends often find themselves closer with each other.

“Being a pre-med and biology major, the weekend is when I have time for my friends,” Miller said. “So I’m really close with my friends who stay on campus over weekends.”

“Overall, I do think that the students who choose to leave campus on the weekends are mostly just hurting their own chance of growth with relationships,” Krull said. “But it is what it is, and you cannot force others to make relationships if they do not put in the effort as well.”

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