Frustrating. Impersonal. Bureaucratic. Imperialistic. Narrow. Irrelevant?
Yes, I could be talking about the IRS (it is tax season after all…) but in this case, I’m talking about the Residential College system at Fairfield. After being through the process, which is about as streamlined and efficient as the electoral counting system in Florida, I can heartily say that it is an inordinate amount of work to go into a program that leaves well over half the freshmen class disheartened and disappointed.
My point here is that I want to give reasons why the Residential College system should be severely amended or disbanded altogether, at least until it has been ironed out. I really have not been victim to the misfortune of not having my first choice; I got into my first-choice college, Loyola. But I have heard of so many stories of dissatisfied students that I feel as though something needs to be said.
First among the reasons why the current system is irrelevant is that a vast majority of students do not pick their colleges based upon their interests. The themes, already forcing students to narrow their interests, take backseat to the dorms they are housed in.
By making only five colleges, students are forced to choose between a narrow range of topics. When diverse interests are funneled into five topics, mandatory participation dilutes the power, cohesiveness, and effectiveness of the communities as a whole.
The Ignatian Residential College system seems to be the odd-man-out of this tirade. Truly, Loyola is the exception; for the vast majority of students involved, it seems to be the only one that students actually want to get involved in, and perhaps this is because the students at Loyola are typically those who get involved on campus – not to say that students outside of Loyola do not, but it seems to be that those in Loyola are of a certain breed. It is the most self-selective College, and therefore has seen a commendable amount of success as a program.
Students like Bellarmine because they like the suites, private bathrooms, and the gorgeous commons and lounges. Students like Claver and Kostka because they have suites, private bathrooms, and decent closet space.
I will be willing to bet next year’s tuition (which, after being raised four percent for next year, is higher than the starting price of a well-equipped BMW 5-Series) that if the theme of Bellarmine were to change as to require a thesis on the mating patterns of South American Howler Monkeys, the same number of people would still apply. Why is this, you ask?
Because people apply to dorms before they apply to a program. The simplest proof of this is the housing application we freshmen received this year. Instead of “Housing Application”, it might as well have been called “Fill This Out and Your Chances of Living In Jogues Will Be Reduced By About 70 percent”.
Hardly anybody would apply to live there, and yet dozens of freshmen fell through the cracks and will spend another year living in small rooms in a freshmen building.
Another reason is that the acceptance of a student in a college can be best described as random. A friend of mine touts a 3.94 GPA, got accepted into the Honors Program, and used a mildly-edited version of his Honors essay to apply for the program. He’ll be living in Jogues next year; ResLife didn’t feel like he could add to the College programs enough, it seems.
Jogues residents: Don’t be surprised when the elevator gets shut down again. The administration already seems to be content with violating Constitutional rights to punish Jogues students even more. Call it “salt on the wound” of being relegated to the corner of the Quad.
The final reason the ResCollege program needs some major elbow grease is the bureaucracy involved in running such an endeavor. A friend of mine, who asked to remain anonymous, told me a story about how she was accepted to Environmental but then given a non-Residential College lottery number. After going to the office to ask why, she was told, and I quote, “come back later.”
Keep in mind that students will pay $11,740 to live on campus next year. This is more than the GDP per capita in Brazil and more than the average income of 66% of countries in the world. We pay that to live in Jogues and to be told to “come back later”.
But don’t fret, fellow freshmen. We have the beach to look forward to senior year!