It hit us between the eyes.
There was no housing, and no one could quite tell us why.
The numbers make sense. There are roughly 1,500 available on campus. There are roughly 1,800 housing appointments for returning students, and an unprecedented 800 new freshmen heading here in the fall. That adds up to more than 2,700 students attempting to fill 1,500 spots.
The Residential Life Office, however, says that it was still thrown off guard at the lack of housing. Yes, as Jim Brock said, there are variables that simply cannot be predicted, such as the number of students who decided to forgo the freedom of an off-campus abode to live on campus and the always-changing number of incoming freshmen. It does seem to us that RLO could have done a better job calculating the number of entering freshmen, no matter how high it may be, and factoring in increasing demand due to increasing campus night life and tough economic times that actually make the on-campus housing cost look like a bargain.
But when we came to Pepperdine, we were not promised four-year housing even though the possibility was sold to parents and students as they were guided around campus as a selling point of the university. And according to the RLO Web site, “(RLO) will help you with basic housing needs, such as registering for a room.” Even this duty couldn’t be fulfilled this year.
But to their credit, after admittedly being caught somewhat off guard, Brock and other RLO staff promised to reevaluate their methods for distributing housing each year to best serve the students. Rather than trying to fix the problem, which they’ll have to do this year, they’d rather prevent it. The Graphic would like suggest a few possibilities.
Here’s where we believe the policy needs to be changed. We’ll even break it down into two issues: supply and demand.
The supply. There are simply not enough rooms to go around. A solution? It seems easy – build more residence halls. But short of hauling out the tractors for a whole new project, lets utilize our current resources to the best of our ability. When the Drescher campus opens, how about restricting graduate students, who have much less need to live on campus and can certainly handle it out in the real world, to living exclusively in the newly built housing up there? That would completely free up all of the George Page apartments.
Another option? Maybe surveying the amount of space in some rooms like those in Towers that are big enough for three, then housing three in each room and reducing the price for those willing to live with the inconvenience of a space crunch, but would rather do that than move off campus.
Perhaps we can even work out deals with apartment complexes to provide students with housing at Pepperdine rates. RLO is already attempting to fix this year’s debacle by making deals with apartment complexes, but let’s make sure that’s done before the fact on a permanent basis so there are no surprises.
These are the most readily available solutions on the supply side, but what about the demand?
First, don’t require sophomores to live on campus. Doesn’t it make more sense to house upperclassmen who want to live on campus ahead of sophomores who don’t?
Second, find one way to distribute housing appointments and stick to it. The change in the distribution of appointments, which now goes by credits, keeps getting shifted each year. A few years back, it was the privilege of being a senior that earned you first housing choice. Here come the vaulted ceilings and ocean views.
But then last year, the seniors-to-be were last to get housed. This year, it’s current seniors who have another year (often third-year students with enough credits, advanced placement or otherwise) who are left out in the cold. That’s the same class two years in a row. We don’t care how you choose to do it since your policy will make someone unhappy either way. Just pick a method and stick with it.
Along that line, perhaps credits are not the best way to distribute housing appointments. Perhaps a better system would be a point system. For instance, everyone starts with zero points. If you’re a senior, you get one. Juniors two, sophomores three and freshmen four. Then add another point if you lack gasoline or pedal-powered transportation. Perhaps another if a student can prove economic hardship that makes living in the wilds of Malibu impractical. Points could also be taken away for those seemingly harmless housing violations and infractions that mean virtually nothing now. In the end, those with the most points register first.
Of course, these are just suggestions. We know there’s no easy solution, but we also know that Brock and RLO want to hear what we, unwitting victims of RLO policies and the housing crunch, have to say. It’s easy to sit and complain, but let’s be proactive and try to help them find workable solutions. E-mail the RLO staff at email@example.com or Jim Brock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Give them your suggestions by calling ext. 4104.
While we may have to pitch tents in Alumni Park, lets make sure that future students have roofs over their heads.
March 28, 2002