Families Enrich the Life of Every Residential College
9 March 2007 (collegiateway.org) — For all their talk of diversity, nearly every university practices one especially corrosive form of segregation: age segregation. Students on many large campuses can spend days or weeks at a time without ever having a significant or thoughtful conversation with someone under 18 or over 21. Campus life shouldn’t be like that, and it doesn’t have to be like that.
Ustinov College, one of the sixteen residential colleges at the University of Durham, caters largely to postgraduate students. Many of its members are older than the usual student population, and many of them come to the university with their families. Ustinov’s Vice-Principal, Theresa McKinven, has pointed me to a fine new webpage that describes information and opportunities available within Ustinov College for students with families. The college membership as a whole provides social support for spouses and children, offers help enrolling children in local schools, and much more. And it does this within the healthy and holistic environment of a residential college, rather than in the sterile and clinical setting of a city social service agency.
It would be a great mistake to see such activities as a one-way “burden” on the college. The presence of families enriches the life of the entire institution, supports the education of the forgotten graduate students, and feeds back into campus welfare in many unquantifiable ways. Ustinov College is setting a fine example that many more residential colleges could profitably follow.