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UNM freshmen residency plan advances

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A plan criticized by University of New Mexico student leaders to require incoming freshmen to live on campus is moving forward.

Regents approved the measure on a 5-to-2 vote after Board of Regents’ President Rob Doughty changed the policy to take effect in 2018 as opposed to 2017.

Supporters of the live-on requirement say students who spend their early years on campus are more likely to do better academically compared with their peers who don’t.

Several students, including the head of the undergraduate student government Kyle Biederwolf, said 2017 was not the right time to require students to live on campus.

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“Right now, we feel this mandate would be an overstep,” Biederwolf said.

Concerns include worries about whether there will be enough beds, construction projects around campus that may make living there unpleasant, and one of the selling points of UNM is being able to choose where one lives.

Student regent Ryan Berryman voted against the measure, but said he does recommend that new students live on campus as he did.

“We talk about this mandate like we want it to make us a destination university, but I think that happens organically,” Berryman said. “I just don’t think it’s the university’s place to mandate how someone spends their money or where they should live.”

Danielle Kirven, 19, an ASUNM senator and a member of the Black Student Alliance, also asked the university to delay the measure, saying black students would be more adversely affected because of cultural divides. She argued regents should implement the requirement slowly.

“A lot of our students who live on campus have voiced a sense of feeling out of place or frustration that comes with always having to explain themselves, which can contribute to a lack of engagement and negative performance academically,” Kirven said.

A slow adoption, she said, would help address these issues.

Doughty seemed to hear that concern and said students should be able to claim an exemption for cultural reasons.

The cost of annual tuition is about $7,000, and room and board is about $9,400. Some students, such as those on the regents’ scholarship, are required to live on campus.

The new requirement would bring about 200 new students to university housing, according to administrators.

The living requirement would allow for numerous exceptions. For example, students who live with a parent, guardian or family member within 30 miles of the university would not be required to live in a dorm. And it wouldn’t be required for those for whom dorm living would be an “undue hardship,” financial or otherwise.

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