Stony Brook University’s housing policy doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to connecting living spaces with academic performances. Article II, Section A of Stony Brook’s Terms of Occupancy states in no uncertain terms that students looking to reside in Tubman Hall, Chavez Hall or West Apartments have to maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 or above to qualify for the privilege.
I’m just going to say it right off the bat: the fact that Stony Brook ties GPA to something as concrete as where a student can live
The decision to offer the available living spaces to students above a certain grade-point average was created out of a need to bridge the gap between supply and demand, according to Alan deVries, associate director of residential programs for administration and services and director of conference housing.
“West and the new residence halls were designed as upper division communities,” deVries said. “The GPA and good judicial standing requirements are there because these are the most desirable accommodations for upper division students, and there is more demand than space.”
While deVries said that students who fall below the GPA requirement while living in these residences are allowed to stay for the remainder of the academic year, the key takeaway here is the rationale behind the use of grades as selection criteria.
It’s not that these requirements are here to reward students who perform well. It’s that GPAs happen to vary between students and provide an easy way to trim the fat on the application lists. The use of GPAs in this instance is both arbitrary and unnecessary.
It’s no secret that Stony Brook is an academically rigorous institution. Rated 96 in the top 100 national universities by U.S. News and World Report, the importance Stony Brook places on GPA doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Students’ GPAs can affect their ability to garner scholarships and participate in
special programs like internships and study abroad. Ultimately, students’ poor academic records might affect their employability and salary for years to come, and could even force them to leave the university altogether.
If it sounds like these consequences place enough emphasis on the importance of getting good grades, it’s because they do. Between scholarships, employment opportunities and the very real possibility of being expelled for bad grades, we don’t need another incentive to work hard.
There’s no reason not to use some other variable besides GPA as the criteria for doling out these “most desirable acommodations.” The first thing
that comes to mind is application time; if Stony Brook isn’t doing this to reward students with a high GPA, then a “first come, first serve” policy should work nicely.
If we entertain the idea that the policy is meant to encourage good performance, we run into quite a few problems. It could be argued that GPA-based scrutiny weighs the scales against students in programs with heavier workloads, and encourages students to take easier courses as “GPA boosters.” Keep in mind, this is a public university, and the housing contracts for both Binghamton University and the University at Buffalo contain no such grade-based stipulations for any of their dorms.
The real-life impact of the GPA policy isn’t so much the focus here. More so, it’s the idea that the policy reinforces an atmosphere that favors unnecessarily high academic standards and the unnecessarily high pressure that comes with those standards. As significant or insignificant as it may be, adding another ball to the juggling act of academic competition just doesn’t seem necessary in this case.