Along with the sunburns and campus tourists, another indicator that spring is here is bombarding students at UC Santa Cruz: campus housing advertisements.
This spring has seen a greater marketing effort for campus housing than in past years, and the content of the advertisements has changed as well. The university is reaching out to older students through new features such as upperclassmen priority for housing, and new options like themed residence halls, such as the social justice building located at College Eight.
“Historically, many students have chosen to move off campus after their sophomore or junior year,” said Kevin Tresham, assistant director for student housing services, in an e-mail to City on a Hill Press. “Because of the decrease in new student enrollment and our expanded housing inventory, we are able to house more upper-division students, and are seeking to create an environment where a four-year university housing experience is the norm,” he said.
Large freshman classes in former years created a housing crunch, forcing the university to prioritize first and second-year students, with many living in converted triples. Housing expansion projects, like the one being completed at Porter College, were implemented to house the growing university population.
When administrators cut faculty and services, fewer first-year students were accepted in an attempt to preserve the quality of the university’s academic experience. This decreased enrollment created unused housing space, and the university is attempting to fill that space with their larger junior and senior classes.
The university has added new housing options that they hope will attract older students.
These new options include the Redwood Grove Apartments, currently known as Kresge East, which will allow students of any college to live together. The university has also created a “Rate Saver” program, allowing all continuing students who apply during the priority housing period to pay the 2009-2010 rate for the 2010-2011 school year.
Despite these new measures, third-year literature major Adrian Kazay doesn’t feel that older students will be interested in living at university housing.
“You don’t see too many upperclassmen even talking about it,” Kazay said. “I didn’t even know that this was going on until you contacted me to [do an] interview. There may have been e-mail notifications, but if so, I just discarded them.”
In an effort to entice more students to live on campus, the university published information highlighting the proximity to classes that living on campus provides.
The information also warns that students who live off campus may feel disconnected to their fellow students and may become less involved in campus organizations.
The university’s comparison portrays living on campus as a much more convenient and desirable option, and some students have expressed that this information was a significant factor in their decision-making process.
“[At one point], I actually really wanted to live off campus, but, after looking at the pros and cons of off campus versus on campus [on the housing website],” said Angela Humphrey, first-year student at College Eight. “I realized living in a university apartment was the smarter choice for my sophomore year.”
Humphrey cites convenience as her main reason for staying on campus next year. “It’s going be easier to get to class. I can also meet more people, and I can eat at the dining hall instead of worrying about cooking every night,” she said.
Aside from attracting the larger junior and senior classes to university housing to fill space, the university says living on-campus provides students with a bonding experience that is impossible to replicate.
“It’s a different atmosphere up on campus. I know a lot of the close bonds I’ve made with people have been with those who I lived on campus with,” said Sapandeep Chadda, interim housing coordinator for Merrill College.
While Chadda enjoyed the social opportunities offered by university housing, third-year student Adrian Kazay says the campus was too isolating. After starting the year in a College Eight residence hall, Kazay moved to a university apartment, and then eventually moved off campus.
“I remember studying for hours on end at the library and then going back to my apartment,” said Kazay. “It was like ‘I need to get off [campus], I need to get off [campus]!”
Although the university has made many changes to their housing offerings to appeal to more upperclassmen, Kazay doesn’t feel they will be successful.
“Living off campus just gives you freedom,” he said. “It’s plain and simple.”