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Campus News

The Smoke Hut Philosopher’s Guide to Retention

by Mariah Parker, Multimedia Editor

Laypeople love to rattle on about our retention rate. Sitting around Sage Circle on a Sunday evening, it seems that every smoker on campus also happens to hold a PhD in Education: Moonbeam and Starfish may seldom make their 8 a.m. classes, but somehow, they think they know how to run a private college.

The other night, however, I caught a bit of smoke hut philosophy that continues to ring in my ears: tales of Sunderland singles repackaged as dodgy doubles, of first-years living in study rooms whose doors have no locks, of a whole host of presto-changos pulled to accommodate the teeming masses.

In light of these horror stories, it’s no wonder so many first-years end up jumping ship.

Just as the bitch session was due to dissolve in surly silence, one kid at the fire put forth this suggestion: rather than admit too many students, expecting a number of them to bail, why not admit fewer and pamper the ones we decide to take? (And by “pamper,” I mean provide them with living spaces that won’t remind them of the Chokey from Matilda.)

I’m not saying that first-year retention rests on housing alone; for the real answers, you’ll have to ask someone who didn’t stay. However, having bounced from couch to dog-gnawed couch this summer, I’m siding with the smoke hut philosophers. Feeling safe, comfortable, and in control of one’s dwelling place is absolutely fundamental to one’s ability to thrive. And, until housing quality triumphs over housing quantity, it’s going to be hard to convince people to stay.


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