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High cost drives some students away from dorms

A new requirement asking incoming freshmen to live on campus next year is making current students glad they will not be freshmen next year.

The requirement, developed by the Division of Student Services and approved by Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander, was introduced to Associated Students Inc. during their Senate meeting Dec. 2.

ASI President Chris Chavez said Vice President of Student Services Douglas Robinson, implemented the requirement to move CSULB past the identity of a commuter campus.

Although Director of Housing and Residential Life Carol Roberts-Corb said CSULB has always had the desire to house as many freshmen as possible, the dorms have never had capacity to house them all.

“It’s a good thing,” Roberts-Corb said about students dorming for their first year of college. “There are tremendous benefits for students who live on campus. Those students benefit academically and socially.”

Roberts-Corb said that although the housing cost will not change next academic year, 49er Shops Inc. will increase the cost of dormitory meal plans. However, the increase amount is not finalized, according to Roberts-Corb.

“[The agreement] will hopefully be finalized by Jan. 1,” she said.

According to the CSULB Web site, a double room and 12-meal plan for new students currently costs $10,050, excluding a $20 social fee. A $40 fee is added to that cost if under the monthly payment plan, and $200 is added under the 19-meal plan.

Roberts-Corb is aware that high cost may detriment students’ desire to reside on campus their first year.

“This was considered when the policy was being discussed,” she said. “[We] very intentionally listed the exception request as an option to apply for. It is a way out if verifiable.”

Freshmen exempt from living in the dorms are those who are living at home with their parents or guardians and those over the age of 21. Other exceptions include students of current military or veteran status, independent students, or those with medical or disability needs.

Students who are married, domestically partnered or legally dependent are also exempt from the requirement, as well as students enrolled in less than five credit hours for the entire year.

Students who want to request an exemption to live off campus will be required to show documentation and proof.

“Tracking is done in conjunction with enrollment services,” Roberts-Corb said. “It involves checking who applied for housing and an exemption, plus cross references.”

Roberts-Corb said CSULB should have enough room to house all of next year’s freshmen due to the decrease in enrollment.

“I believe there will be [room],” Roberts-Corb said. “If we need to create a wait list, we will do that.”

Some students understand the importance of dormitory housing in a student’s first year of college but do not think it is worth the price CSULB is offering.

“I couldn’t even get into the dorms as a freshman,” said Brianne Varela, a CSULB music performance alumna who lived at Beverly Plaza Apartments during her freshman year. “[Dorming] was not an experience I wanted or needed. I lived in Orange County and it was not a totally different experience [from home].”

David Torres, a junior sociology major, said he would have gone to community college or Cal State Dominguez Hills if dorming were required during his freshman year because he could not afford to dorm.

“A lot of people would not want to stay here. It would be like a prison,” the Carson resident said. “Maybe if it were priced lower; it would be too expensive. I could just go to another school and get a house.”

Other students understand the importance of living on campus to meet new people.

“I would still go here,” said Cindy Magallanes, a senior biology major. “Dorming would be a totally different experience [from commuting].”

Although Magallanes drives a 20-minute commute, she said she would still attend CSULB if she had the money and financial aid even if it meant traveling back and forth from home to school on weekends. However, it would not be enough to turn CSULB into a residential campus, she said.

“It’s a start, but it wouldn’t completely work,” she said. “Most people would still commute,” she said.

Michelle Lee, a freshman physiology major, said she would not have chosen to come to CSULB if she were required to live on campus.

“If you pay the same amount as a UC, you might as well pay more to go out of the city,” she said.

A resident of Bellflower, Lee said she is not ready to leave home just yet and that CSULB’s reputation as a commuter campus is not necessarily a bad thing.

“There are a lot of kids who come to this school from outside of the city who drive here,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if a school is a commuter campus as long as it is a good school.”  

 

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