By Sarah Carlson, Staff Writer
University officials are concerned with upperclassmen Presidential Scholars who are paying for a room in University Park apartments but living off campus.
The scholars, who are required to live on campus, received an e-mail detailing the stricter enforcement of the requirement from Dr. Chris Willerton, professor of English and director of the Honors Program.
Next fall, if administrators discover a Presidential Scholar is paying for UP but living off campus, the student will permanently lose his scholarship, Willerton said.
Information that some students were getting around the on-campus living requirement came to him third-hand from “very reliable students,” Willerton said.
He addressed rumors that the university does not care whether a student actually lives in UP as long as they pay the rent.
“The university does care,” Willerton said in the e-mail, “because students’ integrity is at issue. When you sign the acceptance letter, you bind yourself to follow its conditions.”
Willerton said the problem is not widespread as far as he knows.
“The announcement is mainly preventative,” Willerton said. “Students will be signing up for UP in the next few weeks, so now is the time to issue a warning about dishonesty.”
The requirements for Presidential Scholar awards state that students who are not married must live “full-time in a campus residence hall (or UP if you are a junior or senior),” and Willerton said the awarded students have had this requirement since the scholarship was founded.
“The rule is not ours to change,” Willerton said.
Erin Sedwick, senior education major from Fort Worth, is a Presidential Scholar and said living in UP is “not that big of a deal.”
She said she does not see the point in paying for both a room in UP and an outside house or apartment.
“Personally that seems like wasting money,” Sedwick said. “We kind of joked about doing that before I moved into UP, but I didn’t know someone would go to that much effort.”
Sedwick said that at first she had wanted to live in a house with her best friend, but that she ended up liking UP.
Michael Lockridge, senior marketing, finance and accounting major from San Antonio, said he and a friend had considered going around the system themselves.
He said he does not want a roommate, and his friend does not want to live in UP, so their solution was for the friend to pay rent but live off campus.
Lockridge said he was unaware of the e-mail sent to Scholars and does not know if his friend read it or not.
“Maybe [the e-mail] is why I haven’t heard back from him,” Lockridge said.
Lockridge said he likes living in UP right now because it is close to places on campus, and if his roommate does not pay his rent, it does not affect him.
However, he also said the rent is high and is one of the reasons most Scholars want to live off campus.
Lockridge said he does not see a problem with paying for the room but living off campus.
“I see their concern,” Lockridge said. “They give us a scholarship and expect us to be leaders. But if you are a junior or senior, at this point if you’re involved, it has nothing to do with living on campus.”
Lockridge said he was aware of the requirement when he signed the contract for the scholarship, but he was not aware at the time how he would eventually feel about living on campus for four years.
“In reality, there is no purpose for forcing us to live in UP,” Lockridge said. “I think it hurts the program as a whole.”
The problem deals with academic integrity, Willerton said, a “major sore point” for the Presidential/National Merit Finalist Scholarship Board.
“If somebody lies to the university, then that’s a problem,” Willerton said.
He said the rule was created to get ACU’s “best and brightest” to influence the residence halls and UP.
“If you don’t want to influence UP, give up the scholarship, and you’ll be free to move off campus,” Willerton said in the e-mail. “You can fall back on your Trustee scholarship, and you’ll have a clear conscience.”
Lockridge said he thinks living in UP should no longer be a requirement for Presidential Scholars.
“If they untied our hands on that part they would have a much happier group,” Lockridge said. “It’s the bane of every Presidential Scholar.”