by Sonya Reinhardt
When Josie Graff filled out her roommate preferences form to live in the dorms at Granada State University, she checked the “as close as possible” box next to “Parent Accommodations.” This fall, the 18-year old incoming psychology major will enroll as an on-campus resident, and so will her parents. Housed in a 2-foot by 8-foot quarter next door to Josie’s spacious double-suite, her parents will be able to continue to make sure she wakes up on time for her 8 a.m. classes, monitor her meals for proper nutrition, and will have easy access to her backpack to leave reassuring post-it notes when midterms begin.
Home dorming emerges as a response to the growing demand for better transitional accommodations for incoming freshman. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that several colleges have already extended housing opportunities to students’ furrier loved ones—cats and dogs—in order to ease the transition. Horses have not yet been classified as an allowable live-in loved one, but students at several campuses have already begun campaigning through the “Pony Not Lonely” initiative, which advocates for hay to be served at on-campus dining centers, with an emphasis on providing gluten-free horse feed options.
While Granada has long since allowed pets to dorm with students—including the occasional Komodo dragon—in 2009, 67% of Granada freshman residents visited the campus urgent care facility for symptoms related to parental separation anxiety and emotional meltdowns when asked to make on-the-spot decisions about how to receive care packages.
“We take student health and well-being very seriously at Granada, and we will continue to develop resources to help them to feel comfortable on campus,” noted Sheila Blount, Assistant Director of Campus Residency at Granada. “Home dorming will further assist the transition from home to the harsh reality of having to do at least part of your own laundry.”
Home dorming parents must follow a stringent set of rules, which limit parents to choosing between whites and colors for their once-per-week laundry allowance, and they are prohibited from attending classes. For example, parents must wait at least ten feet outside the door of an active class to greet their child. If a parent brings brownies, he or she must bring enough for the entire class.
“I wish Granada offered home dorming last year,” sniffled the mother of Granada sophomore Mark Finkus. “We really struggled trying to squeeze in haircuts and underwear shopping with his class schedule. It was hard on all of us.”
All home dorms are equipped with a two-way intercom system, a shared digital calendar mounted on the wall, mandatory family photo albums, and a small common space in the passageway between student and parent quarters. The passageway doubles as an annex to the parent room, where parents can stretch out their feet to avoid cramps while sleeping.
The home dorming initiative is an extension of the existing Granada Welcome Program, which provides a 24/7 pimple-squeezing attendant; an exclusive period-stain underwear washing service; and the Blankie Bin, a communal supply of comfort blankets donated by the campus’s “Volunteer or Feel Guilty” organization.
As for Josie, who plans to home dorm with her mother, father, aunt, second-cousin and therapist/family friend, she’s excited to move into the Granada dorms with the whole gang from Northbrook, 15 miles south of Granada. “My family is so supportive, and I really feel prepared for college life now,” she said with a smile. “This program gives me the confidence that I can succeed as a psychology major, and I’ve already bought my textbook for the class: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Relevant to Generation Y?“