Lantern file photo
The Ohio State Board of Trustees approved a second-year programming plan for OSU students that will resemble first-year experience programs, in one quick, unanimous vote April 6.
“The program will be continuing what we do well and push forward,” said Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of the Office of Student Life. “The first year is about discovering the university, the second year is about discovering yourself.”
To achieve this, the two-year program will provide students with better access to faculty and academic resources and encourage community involvement through an ongoing, self-chosen service project and personal development through internships, Adams-Gaston said.
During a Feb. 10 Board of Trustees meeting, board member Algenon Marbley, chair of the Academic Affairs and Student Committee, said an important goal of second-year programming is to strengthen faculty-to-student relationships.
“One of the centerpieces of the on-campus experience is that faculty would be an integral part of that experience,” Marbley said. “Some would live there, but many would have activities centered in the residence halls.”
Results from the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement show that about 60 percent of first-year students never interact with faculty outside the classroom, and Marbley said that increasing the faculty-student interaction will create faculty mentors and foster learning outside of the classroom.
With the board’s approval of a two-year residential experience plan, Adams-Gaston said Student Life is in the beginning stages of implementing it.
“We have a steering committee across the university,” Adams-Gaston said. “We are going to study focus groups. We have faculty involved in a think tank. We’re going to continue to work across the university to prepare.”
Adams-Gaston said Student Life will run a pilot group of 2,000 students in 2013 to test the programs of the Two-Year Residential Experience plan, and that further details about the programs will be available by this summer.
The board’s approval of a two-year experience is not an approval for second-year housing, though President E. Gordon Gee has expressed his vision of requiring first- and second-year students to live on campus.
“The evidence is so dramatically clear,” Gee told The Lantern in a Feb. 6 editorial board meeting. “It will improve the quality of life, it will improve the graduation rates … the intellectual environment will improve.”
Gee told The Lantern that while he initially wanted the proposal to take effect by 2012, students won’t be directly impacted by the change until 2015 or 2016.
But not everyone in the university area agrees with Gee.
Wayne Garland, president of Buckeye Real Estate, said more students living in the residence halls would lead to vacancies in the university district. Garland said many landlords would rent vacant residencies to non-students, if necessary.
“The reality is you need to have an income stream to pay mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities, etc., so I’m fairly certain most owners would/will rent their properties to nontraditional residents,” Garland said. “This could lead to more social issues and a deterioration of some areas and the lack of lenders willing to make loans for reinvestment into our community. A series of dominoes falling in the wrong direction.”
Marbley presented data from the Office of Student Life at the April 6 board meeting that showed higher retention and graduation rates for students who live on campus for at least two years.
Marbley said that while the retention rate for students who live on campus for one year is 80.4 percent, the retention rate for students who live at least two years on campus is 92 percent.
The graduation rate for students who live one year on campus is 79.7 percent, compared to the 88.2 percent graduation rate for students who live at least two years on campus, Marbley said.
Gee told The Lantern Feb. 6 that students paying tuition at OSU are also paying for the collegiate experience – the intellectual, social and cultural aspects of university life.
“The most important learning is that you are going to have if from each other, and the closer we can keep you together and having that experience … that is what this is all about,” Gee said.
The approval of the “Transformational Two-Year Residential Experience” by the board April 6 means that members have approved the goals of the program and will move forward to develop them. Student Life will present to the board on August 30-31 a report on how the goals of the second-year experience plan coincide with the North Residential District Plan, a project to make North Campus an academic core of the university.