Academic journal article Honors in Practice

The Honors Community: Furthering Program Goals by Securing Honors Housing

Academic journal article Honors in Practice

The Honors Community: Furthering Program Goals by Securing Honors Housing

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Many of us involved in honors programs and colleges assume that honors housing plays an important role in creating an honors community on campus. Some of the institutions for which we work agree and do not necessarily insist that we make the case for honors housing on campus. However, my experience this past year in attempting to bring honors housing to my campus for the second time in three years indicates that those who are involved in the decision-making process do not necessarily support honors housing. This article concerns the methods I used as Director of the University Honors Program at Southern Polytechnic State University, a small university just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, to bring honors housing back to campus after a private housing operation was given control over all campus housing. My hope is that this information will be useful in two ways: 1) documenting the roles of honors housing in honors programs, and 2) helping others who wish to bring honors housing to a campus find the support necessary to do so.

BACKGROUND

In the fall of 2002, the faculty and administration at SPSU decided to create an honors program and to hire a director. An Honors Committee was formed, and I became Director in the spring of 2003. The Honors Committee had already determined to grow the program one class at a time; therefore, we only solicited applications from freshmen students for the fall of 2003. One of the directions I received was to secure honors housing for the entering freshmen. I was able to do so with relative ease and was even able to work with the Director of Housing to plan how the housing would expand as the number of students increased in the years to come. SPSU provides housing through two residence halls on campus: Howell serves the freshmen students, and Norton serves the upperclassmen. In the fall of 2003, there were also several apartment buildings called the Courtyard Apartments on campus that were run by a private company. The Director of Housing and I determined that we would place honors students together on a floor in Howell Hall for the first year and that we would move all honors students to Norton Hall once the Honors Program began to accept upperclassmen.

The Honors Program accepted twenty-three students into its program for the fall of 2003. Around half of these students had determined they would live on campus, and they were placed on an honors floor in Howell. They formed a small, tight community. They supported each other and the off-campus honors commuters by studying together.

In the spring of 2004, SPSU decided to add more apartments on campus in order to create more housing options for students. It also hoped that the additional housing would help to create a better sense of community for the students at large. Later that year SPSU decided to refurbish the residence halls. Because Howell's refurbishing was not complete before the fall of 2004, freshman students were placed in the new apartment buildings for the fall semester. The Director of Housing and I were only able to assure that the new honors freshmen had honors roommates. We were not able to move forward on our plans to extend honors housing. Plans went further askew in the spring of 2005 when the SPSU administration decided to hire the private company that managed the apartments on campus to manage the residence halls as well. The private company was also placed in charge of the tutoring services and the academic program run from the residence halls. Therefore, the private company took over the First-Year Resident Experience Program (FYRE). SPSU uses this program to track the progress of freshman students and to provide academic tutoring and study hours for these students.

The change in management was troubling for me because it meant establishing relationships with new people and attempting to re-establish plans that had already begun to be implemented; however, it was troubling for other reasons as well. …

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