Little-known housing option stresses accountability, camaraderie

The Business and Professional Women’s Scholarship House offers a cheaper alternative to traditional on-campus housing.

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The Business and Professional Women's Scholarship House, located just behind the University Village Apartments. Photo by Wesley Wright | Business Manager

Wesley Wright, Business Manager

Many students have never heard of the Business and Professional Women’s Scholarship House, but its program has helped hundreds of Florida Atlantic students over the past two decades.

Established in 1996, it sits just east of the University Village Apartments and houses 17 women at a time.

To be eligible, applicants need a 3.0 GPA and must have taken at least 12 credit hours. They also need to have at least $1,500 in unmet financial needs.

Living in the house costs much less than other housing options on campus. And because of a policy change, starting next semester, those in the house will pay just $500 a semester to stay.

The idea of taking out a loan to pay for university housing bothered Tovina Gilpin, the president of the house. The program gave her an alternative.

“I really didn’t want to pay,” she said. “That was the first aspect that attracted me.”

Despite its name, women do not need to be business majors in order to reside there. Just three of the women living in the house are business majors.

Gilpin, a senior accounting major, came to Florida from the Cayman Islands.

“It’s the thing to do back home,” she said about leaving the Islands for college. “When I came here, I knew nothing.”

Now, according to Gilpin, she presides over a program that houses many of the women she holds most dear. After her freshman year, Gilpin found herself needing a change of scenery from Indian River Towers.

The program stresses that accountability is essential; in teams, the women cook four nights a week and must keep the house clean. They also have a semester requirement of eight community service hours.

Failing to abide by the house’s bylaws results in a fine. Each and every woman in the house can levy a fine against any of the others.

“Anybody can get fined,” said Gilpin.

There is often an adjustment period for some women entering the house for the first time. According to Tiana Gunter, a junior majoring in business management and marketing, she couldn’t cook when she arrived, but she learned from watching the other residents.

“You’ll learn,” Gunter said. “You have no excuse.”

The junior came to the house after spending a summer in university housing.

“I chose FAU because I heard it has a great business school,” said Gunter. Before hearing about it from a friend, she had no idea the house existed.

Though academics were paramount on her list when choosing a school, the house is now a large part of why she enjoys her time at the Boca Raton campus. Thanks to it, she found an environment that welcomed her.

“I had no one, it was such a surprise,” said Gunter. “I’ve met some of my best friends here.”

The women spend the majority of their time together, from mall visits to beach cleanups to nightly studying. The house helps to create what members have described as a strong camaraderie.

“I learned to love there,” said junior chemistry major Elmanny Mondesir. She added that the group helped her get over being homesick when she left her native Port St. Lucie.

Applications are now open and close March 25 at 5 p.m.

Wesley Wright is the business manager of the University Press and one of its senior reporters. To contact him regarding this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.