Cabrini’s residency dropped from about 900 residents down to 586. Dean of Student Engagement Anne Filippone plans to increase campus engagement, as well as offer a new option for graduate housing.
Reasons for the decrease
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what caused the drop in residency, but there are some obvious culprits, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Coming back from COVID-19, I think students are just seeing a change and it’s been slow to have a way back to residential living spaces. Some people may not be fully comfortable with living in a community right now,” Filippone said.
She added, “I think it’s a variety of reasons, which could be individual to each person. Some of it is there’s more of a tendency of students to maybe want to live at home if they’re close by and can commute.”
Filippone also said it’s not always clear who’s fully engaging on campus.
“[Students] might be actively involved in athletics, or they can be really involved in the SEaL programs. And maybe they are a part of CAP Board or engaged in another department on campus,” Filippone said.
“We don’t always have a clear picture of all the different ways that our students are engaging, so if there’s a program happening at the same time as another program, that right there already diffuses your audience,” Filippone said.
Hope for student engagement
Student engagement is one of the many ways Cabrini hopes to encourage residency. Filippone is eager to get more students to participate in groups and events on campus and is optimistic that there will be an improvement.
“We’re seeing [engagement] numbers going up this year, since the past two years. Again, it’s been slow, but we’re seeing more students engaging in our student organizations. We’re seeing higher attendance rates for programs and the off-campus trips we run through SEaL. So, I do think that the numbers are starting to go up pretty steadily. We’re excited about that,” Filippone said.
She also noted the steps the school’s taking to ensure turnout for events and how to boost activities students want to attend. “We all want to be participating in things where we see our friends and other people there and it’s places people want to be. I think trying to enhance that will enhance the student residential experience as well,” Filippone said.
“Or, word of mouth of like … ‘Hey, I’m headed to this program tonight.’ The more students share those kinds of things and turn out, then that’s when we see our attendance going up,” she said.
However, Filippone said she also needs community feedback. “I really want to hear from the students. What are the things you want to see? And I encourage you to participate because it’s not worth doing if students aren’t going to come out and participate in those activities.”
Ella Marrollo, junior education major, shares her thoughts on-campus events and engagement. “I personally don’t even go to them but I have been to the involvement fair supporting Morgan’s Message and The Hidden Opponent. I would love to go to more of them but it’s hard for me to go on Wednesdays when they usually are during common hour but I usually get home later from field [student teaching] and can’t make it,” Marrollo said.
Plans for graduate housing
Graduate students aren’t guaranteed housing if they choose to continue their education at Cabrini. But on the bright side, there’s a plan to open the McManus House to graduate living.
“We are looking to utilize the McManus House for graduate housing. We do have some graduate students who are living in housing currently. But it’s not something that has been actively marketed in the past. We’re looking at ways to really make that more open to students to let them know there is housing available for them,” Filippone said.
“We want to have that be graduate-specific housing because I think that there’s a shift that once you graduate from the undergraduate experience, there’s a shift in the focus on classes, the time commitment you’re putting towards that,” Filippone added.
However, Olivia Little, a current graduate student in elementary education said, “With the cost of graduate school and post-graduate expenses, I think that adding on-campus housing wouldn’t necessarily be the most feasible option for graduate students. It is also important for universities to prioritize campus housing for undergraduate students, especially because the age range is 17-22, and those students require a lot more safety and protection over a graduate student who has enough experience living on their own.”
On the other hand, Cole Synder, a current graduate student in education, said, “I think it would be smart to have it as an option. Many times, students who are in grad school no longer go to school with their classmates anymore because they are graduated. This causes them to be stuck without a place to live; with on-campus living, it would be easy.”
Both Little and Synder live off campus.
“Being able to work a full-time job and making money to afford my own living space is much more rewarding. Plus, you’re saving on student loans when living off campus,” Little said.
“I chose it for a few reasons, one being it is cheaper to live off campus than it is to live on campus. Also, I don’t have to share a common bathroom. I live with my teammates, so living off campus is a good option for me,” Synder said.
Still, Filippone believes offering graduate housing is an important option. “It’s a different type of experience and we want students to have this setting that will best support their learning and the educational environment that they’re looking for,” she said.
Correction: We incorrectly identified the number of residents at Cabrini. We apologize for the error.