For a minimum of three years, John Brown University requires students to live on campus. Compared to some state schools allowing freshmen to live off-campus, JBU’s requirement of three years of residential living seems strict to students.
Andre Broquard, dean of students and director of residence life at JBU, said the policy is for both community and educational purposes. He said that what students perceive as being a strict policy is one that is shared by many other faith-based institutions and many schools in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
JBU allows students to apply for off-campus living if they have lived on campus for six semesters, have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and a clean disciplinary history. The exceptions to these rule include students who are married, over 22 years of age and transfer students.
Broquard cited research that shows students who are engaged on campus are more successful, with better GPAs and higher graduation rates.
He said JBU would be a fundamentally different experience without residential living. “We look at the JBU atmosphere and how much students living on campus fuels that environment,” Broquard said. “We’re committed to that, and students have to live here for that to happen.”
Junior Aubrey Franke said living on campus has given her a more full college experience.
“Being on campus is how I made my closest friends…It’s such a great experience to live and learn in same environment.” She went on to say her involvement with ResLife allowed her to become even more connected on campus.
JBU students give many reasons for wanting to live off-campus, but the two most common are financial and emotional reasons.
Broquard explained that it is difficult to determine financial need, but the option to live with faculty is in place to satisfy the needs of students who would not be able to attend JBU otherwise.
“It still stays within the idea of the community aspect of living on campus, and the support of accountability,” he said. Eighteen students took advantage of this opportunity this semester.
For students who struggle with mental health or physical disabilities, a different policy is in place, but it is not to remove the student from residential living.
“Our first decision isn’t to say, ‘let’s get you off campus’, our first question is ‘how can we accommodate your needs within campus,’” Broquard said.
Students who live off-campus struggle to have the same level of involvement on campus as residential students. Broquard said he relates it to the difficulty to come back to campus after leaving. Even just going home at the end of the day makes it more difficult to return the next day.
“Life gets hard, when I’m separated, even if it’s a mile. It might as well be 15 because it’s that hard to come back,” Broquard said.
He said he has seen many students say they will be involved after moving away, but it rarely happens. Life off-campus has a different rhythm. Broquard encourages students to enjoy the opportunity to live on-campus in a residential community because it is not an experience that repeats itself often.