Residential Community Enhancements
The University of Notre Dame announced in September 2017 new strategies for strengthening undergraduate residence hall communities, including incentives for seniors to live on campus and a requirement that first-year, sophomore, and junior students live on campus for six semesters. These strategies seek to strengthen the University’s long-standing residential mission of forming communities that are inclusive of all members and dedicated to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual development of Notre Dame undergraduate students.
Senior incentives will range from increased flexibility in meal plans to more autonomy in room picks to additional leadership roles for seniors in the halls. Specifics of each new offering will benefit from continued student feedback through the Hall Presidents’ Council as implementation occurs over the next two to three years.
In addition, consistent with Notre Dame’s desire to solidify the residential experience as an essential component of a Notre Dame undergraduate education, beginning with the matriculating class of 2018 (graduating class of 2022), first-year, sophomore, and junior students are required to live on campus for six semesters. Study abroad facilitated through Notre Dame International will automatically count toward the fulfillment of the six-semester expectation, with other exceptions considered on an individual basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is residential life so important at Notre Dame?
Residential life is a distinct and beloved feature of a Notre Dame undergraduate experience, and our approach to residential life is unlike any other in American higher education. The mixed-class, single-sex system featuring modest-sized halls are critical elements of the model, as is each hall’s unique community, character, and traditions.
Why is Notre Dame focused on strengthening its residential communities?
The aspiration of our residential mission is to build Christian community, where each student is known individually, feels a sense of belonging, and is encouraged by the University’s Catholic, Holy Cross tradition of developing both the mind and heart.
It is in our residential communities where we supports our students’ formation as they deepen their faith, cultivate moral virtues, develop healthy relationships, become servant leaders, and reflectively and prayerfully discern their future.
What are the new strategies for strengthening undergraduate residential communities?
Residential community enhancements include new incentives for seniors to live on campus and a requirement that first-year, sophomore, and junior students live on campus for six semesters.
Why is the University implementing these strategies now?
In 2016, we opened Dunne and Flaherty Halls to relieve overcrowding. In August, Walsh Hall reopened to residents after a yearlong transformation that included both physical improvements as well as the creation of more common space for residents to gather and interact. In the coming years, we will renovate an older hall, a major project that will take a full year, and a newer hall, a project that can be completed over the summer. With urgent overcrowding addressed and a housing renewal plan in place, the University has turned its attention to strengthening its on-campus undergraduate residential communities.
How did the University decide to implement these changes?
The University has noticed a trend in recent years for upper-classmen/women—especially seniors—to move off-campus. While we understand the decision to move off-campus is motivated by a number of good reasons, we also believe a critical strength of our residence hall communities are upper-classmen/women serving as models and mentors to underclassmen/women.
For over a year, the University conducted a variety of research to understand why students choose to live on or off-campus, and what types of changes might encourage them to live on campus for four years. The Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research and Student Affairs staff facilitated more than a dozen student focus groups, visited off-campus complexes, and engaged with Campus Life Council, Student Government, and Diversity Council. We also sought the input of rectors, parents, and the Holy Cross community.
What are the proposed senior incentives and how will the university ultimately decide what incentives to offer seniors to remain in the residence halls?
Senior incentives will range from increased flexibility in meal plans to more autonomy in room picks to additional leadership roles for seniors in the halls. We are also reviewing how we can offer a more consistent experience in the halls while retaining important traditions and distinctiveness among them. Specifics of each new offering will benefit from continued student feedback.
What is the timeline for providing senior incentives?
Implementation for senior incentives will occur over the next two to three years.
What is the percentage of students who currently live on campus? What about sophomores and juniors?
Currently, 79 percent of all undergraduate students, including 85 percent of juniors and 98 percent of sophomores, live in on-campus residence halls.
What is the current policy for on-campus housing?
The University currently requires all first-year students to live on campus with one assigned roommate, in a University residence hall, unless they are residing locally with a parent or guardian.
How will the new six-semester policy affect current students?
The new policy will not affect any students currently enrolled at Notre Dame.
When will the new six-semester policy take effect?
Beginning with the matriculating class of 2018 (graduating class of 2022) first-year, sophomore, and junior students will be required to live on campus for six semesters.
Will the University have enough space to accommodate all freshmen, sophomores, and juniors?
The new policy will require modest additional residence hall space, and the University is actively seeking benefaction for two new halls.
How will the new on-campus residency requirement affect students who study abroad their junior year?
Study abroad facilitated through Notre Dame International will automatically count toward the fulfillment of the six-semester expectation.
Will there be a waiting list for incoming transfer students or students who take a leave of absence and return to Notre Dame?
Incoming transfer students, students who take a leave of absence, students who withdraw from the University, or students who live off-campus and are considering moving back on campus will continue to be placed on a waiting list for housing and will be placed in halls as space becomes available. New residence hall space will improve capacity and will allow for more transfer students to obtain on-campus housing.
Are any students exempt from the new six-semester requirement? What is the process for requesting waivers?
First-year students may currently request that the on-campus housing policy be waived if they are living at home, with a parent, within 30 miles of campus. A waiver process will continue under the new six-semester requirement, although the exact process and who qualifies for an exception will continue to be developed over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year.
Are student-athletes required to live in residence halls through their junior year?
All student-athletes are subject to the same residence hall rules and regulations that apply to the entire student community, so this new University policy will apply to them as well. Currently, all first-year, sophomore, and junior student-athletes receiving scholarship assistance must reside in on-campus residence halls through a separate policy from the Faculty Board on Athletics.
How will the new on-campus residency requirement impact families financially?
A standard room and meals amount is used to determine undergraduate students’ cost of attendance at Notre Dame whether they live on- or off-campus. In addition, living on- or off-campus does not affect a student’s financial aid eligibility. Prices of off-campus living arrangements also vary widely.
How will the new residency expectation impact the local South Bend housing market?
The University will continue to partner with the local community to ensure safe, affordable, and convenient off-campus housing options. The on-campus University Village and O’Hara-Grace town homes for graduate and professional students are scheduled to close in summer 2018, which will result in more post-baccalaureate students living in the local community. The University is preparing referral resources that will better inform and support post-baccalaureate students in their housing search. These referral resources, including a new website search tool, are expected to launch later this semester.