Graphic by Annabelle Childers
A first-year experience. A college community. A final track season. With the start of another online semester, students are hoping to salvage some of the experiences they’ve lost.
Seaver Dean Michael Feltner’s Jan. 8, announcement outlined plans for an online start to the spring 2021 semester, prompting some students to pack their bags and move to Malibu, searching for housing near or on Pepperdine’s campus.
“I came to visit my friends a few times that have apartments down here, and when you come down and visit and realize what you’re missing out on — that sense of community — it just really gave me that fear of missing out,” said senior Cassidy Aberson.
Pepperdine anticipates housing 300 students, comprised of athletes and hardship appeal applicants, on campus over the course of the spring semester, said Robin Gore, associate dean of Student Affairs and director of Housing Operations. This number is an increase from the 227 students who lived on campus during the fall 2020 semester.
Of the 227 students who lived on campus in the fall semester, only 183 remained on campus for the spring, Gore said. Though 44 students did not return to campus for the spring semester, Gore said around 40 new students are now living on the Malibu campus after Housing and Residence Life granted their hardship appeals.
For the spring 2021 semester, 468 students self-reported living within a 50-mile radius of the Malibu campus, said Stacy Montgomery, associate dean of Student Affairs for Transfers and Commuter Students.
Pepperdine gradually allowed more students on campus throughout the fall semester as LA County loosened restrictions, Gore said. Pepperdine is still closely monitoring COVID-19 conditions in hopes more students can return later in the semester.
First-year Annette Im moved to Malibu on Feb. 1, from her hometown of Dallas, Texas, after learning of Pepperdine’s decision to begin the spring semester virtually.
Im said she always wanted to live in Malibu but hoped for a spring campus reopening. After the Jan. 8, announcement, Im began searching for housing options and signed a four-month lease in Malibu with first-years Mary Paige Rowsey, Annie Leow and Nayeli Castillo.
Alongside a desire to feel more plugged into the Pepperdine community, Im said she moved to Malibu for a better academic environment.
“There are no distractions here because all my roommates are in classes and we do our own thing,” said Im.
Many students also found housing in the off-campus community at Calamigos Ranch.
Sam Rosenblad, one of the resident directors at Calamigos, said COVID-19 has sparked more student interest in the community.
“In past years, we were at about 50 [students],” said Rosenblad. “This year, we are at about 80.”
Rosenblad said students come to Calamigos Ranch to gain some semblance of the college atmosphere. He believes the housing facilitates a feeling of normalcy during the pandemic.
Calamigos Ranch has had a waiting list since the fall semester but was able to welcome 20 new students this spring, said Rosenblad. Calamigos rejected 30 or 40 students hoping to apply this spring due to space limitations.
The Final Season
Aberson is a Cross Country and Track athlete living at Calamigos Ranch. Aberson spent the fall semester in her hometown of Vacaville, CA but moved to Malibu after her coach said a track season would take place in the spring.
Aberson said she decided to move to Malibu to run in her final track season and to spend her last semester of college with friends.
“It’s different now that I’m down here,” Aberson said. “I can meet up with people safely, six feet apart if I need to, and go over class stuff and study.”
Aberson said she looked into living in Malibu Canyon Apartments, but the complex offered no lease options shorter than nine months. Aberson said Calamigos Ranch presented her with the option to sign a semester or month-to-month lease.
“I feel like I’m actually going to Pepperdine now that I’m down here,” Aberson said.
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