Cal State Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley is on a mission to resolve one of the largest complaints she hears from students: expensive campus housing.
It’s no secret that many students live off campus and prepare their own meals because it is much cheaper than living in the campus housing facilities. The 2017-2018 housing costs to live in a double are $7670, and meal plans, which are required for all residents to purchase, range from $3260 to $4606 for the year. However, campus leaders are beginning to research options that could bring housing prices down.
“We might be able to capture some greater array of students who could afford to [live on campus] because we’re looking at ways to mitigate food costs,” Conoley told the Daily 49er last week.
According to Conoley, CSULB is currently working on a housing plan that would add 900 beds with new buildings that could include kitchenettes so that students wouldn’t have to buy a meal plan. This would be executed by creating completely new buildings in locations that were presented in a 2008 master plan.
“As President Conoley has said, we are in the very early stages of this work. We have contracted with a company that will do a massive study interviewing students, and doing an assessment of competition for campus housing in the area that will give us an idea of what types of housing we should build and what would be a reasonable price point,” Corry Colonna, executive director of housing and residential life said.
Conoley’s vision is to design a housing system in which the old residential buildings would cost less than the new ones.
With the current system, students living in the non-air conditioned buildings that were built in 1983 are paying the same as those in renovated buildings that come with air conditioning units.
Britney Weller, a senior communication studies major who lives in Los Alamitos, a renovated residence hall, described logging into the housing portal with her friends hours before the housing application opened. This is because she and her friends were so eager to avoid getting placed in an older building without air conditioning.
“I definitely think it would be fairer if the older buildings were cheaper because there would be that disclaimer that said, ‘hey, you can pay less, but you’re not going to have these amenities,’ whereas now people are just kind of screwed because they don’t even have AC and it gets really hot over there,” Weller said.
Although Conoley wants to avoid knocking down buildings, others disagree with her plan and want to look into replacing old buildings if it’s financially feasible.
“We always will try to keep the gaps between housing options fairly modest,” said Colonna. “I don’t want there to be a sense of the wealthiest students can afford building ‘X’ and the students with the most modest means can afford only building ‘Y.’”
The goal, according to Colonna, is to first build beside Parkside College within a few years, and then look at a phased approach of building, renovating and replacing buildings across campus. This approach will ensure that the campus will only gain housing, but will never diminish housing even if a building has to be torn down.
Bringing more students into campus housing facilities would better the school in terms of graduation rates, according to Conoley, as well as community engagement and access to what the campus has to offer in terms of art and culture.
“Housing in Long Beach can be really frustrating because it’s so expensive and you get these really small apartments that you have to share with five other people in order to afford it,” Weller said. “I think it would be great if they expanded housing so that there were more beds.”