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UNM drops freshman dorm requirement

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A University of New Mexico regents committee has abandoned a plan for now to require incoming freshmen to live in school dorms.

Citing concerns about the increased cost to students and available food, parking and recreational services on campus, regents on the Finance and Facilities Committee tabled the proposal in their monthly meeting Monday.

But they seemed willing to reconsider it after seeking more input from students once school starts and after the school builds in more services to keep students happy and healthy on campus.

“I just don’t know if we’re ready,” said Regent Marron Lee, committee chairwoman.

The proposed move, according to supporters, was expected to help students stay in school. Administrators have said students who live on campus do better academically in the long run.

The average cost of room and board at UNM runs about $9,500 annually. Tuition runs about $7,000 for in-state students.

University administrators – in support of the move – had anticipated that an additional 350 students not already living on campus would be required to live in university housing in addition to the roughly 3,800 current campus residents, based on data from 2015.

Students who live within a 30-mile radius of the school, those who are older than age 20 and those who demonstrate a hardship would be exempt from the residency requirement.

University administrators said of the 2014 freshmen that 85 percent of students living on campus came back for their sophomore year. In contrast, only 75 percent of freshmen who lived off-campus returned for their second year. UNM’s undergraduate enrollment is about 20,000.

The school’s main campus dorms have about a 70 percent occupancy rate, according to Associate Vice President Chris Vallejos.

Some of UNM’s peer institutions in the region already require freshman residency, including New Mexico State University beginning fall semester 2017.

“I just don’t want to increase cost for students,” Regent Ryan Berryman said.