By Eleanor O’Hagan
Franciscan University is growing! Each freshman class is bigger than the last and new academic programs and buildings are going up.
This is amazing to see, especially since many of the students who are coming to Franciscan are doing so because of the Catholic Faith and community on campus.
But along with the positives of Franciscan’s growth, there are also negatives. A lack of available housing has made it necessary for freshman students to be housed in the Franciscan Inn next year.
Generally, having more students means that it’s easier for individuals to get lost in the crowd. This has been prevented by the community that Fr. Michael Scanlan worked so hard to build.
Households, student events and other various groups and clubs have always helped provide community among students.
I believe that, in order to maintain tightly-knit and earnest communities on campus, it is necessary to keep the students in those communities on the campus itself rather than moving them off the hill. By placing students in the hotel, we will lose what they bring to campus.
In addition, some households are being asked to have a “wing part two” in the hotel. If you know anything about households, you know they are groups of young people who love to party it up Frannie style!
Blaring music, singing, cheering for new intents and shouting prayers is the norm for most households. This is not what tired guests in a hotel will want to hear late at night and may cause tension between hotel guests and the university.
The lifestyle of households is a large part of the community at Franciscan. By placing students and households in the hotel, their ability to enjoy Franciscan’s vibrant community is limited. This could harm the lifeblood of Franciscan University which Fr. Scanlan worked to build.
In addition, putting new students in the hotel harms the ability of freshmen to get their footing during their first few months on campus. Freshman year is hard enough as it is, but being separated from the rest of campus will not help at all.
Having a dorm community with a chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved at all times is so important for students who are just beginning their time at Franciscan.
Having spent my first year at Franciscan in Marian Hall, I can personally attest to how important the dorm community was for my getting used to being a college student. Having RAs who genuinely cared about their role in the dorm and worked hard to foster a community among the residents made the dorms feel like a home away from home and a safe haven from the busy and stressful world of academics.
Having the Blessed Sacrament located just a hundred feet away from my dorm room is still a comfort on long nights of studying or when I’m looking for a place to escape from personal problems.
Dorm chapels are a well-known highlight of attending Franciscan University. Would this be possible in a hotel?
I’ll end with this final question: does housing students in the hotel benefit them in any way? Does taking a student’s community and part of households away from the heart of campus help Franciscan University remain the college Fr. Scanlan envisioned?