With the largest incoming freshman class in UC Berkeley history coming to campus this fall, the Residential Student Service Programs need to ensure that all students are guaranteed quality housing. Reports that the impending increase in the size of the student body might lead to a scarcity in campus housing is just unacceptable.
This year, 5,979 students submitted a Statement of Intent to Register to UC Berkeley — 614 more students than last year. RSSP spokesperson Marty Takimoto said that although the number could fluctuate, he anticipates that there will be 50 more students looking for on-campus housing this year than the typical occupancy in the residence halls allows.
To address the possible scarcity this year, like it has done in the past few years, RSSP has said that it may need to convert study lounges to four-person rooms and turn some double rooms into triples. With UC Berkeley having one of the costliest room and board rates in the nation, this possibility just isn’t up to the standards, considering students pay thousands of dollars each semester to live on campus. Because this is also not the first year RSSP has resorted to converting student lounges to make more room for students — albeit temporarily — the program needs to come up with a more permanent solution to handle an increase in student occupancy.
For example, the recently opened Maximino Martinez Commons could give priority to freshmen instead of second-year students or upperclassmen, like it currently does. Freshmen are often new to campus and don’t have the time or experience to explore off-campus housing options and should be given every chance possible to live on campus if they choose.
The campus admissions office should also work with RSSP to ensure that the program adheres to its policy ensuring housing for freshmen, transfer and extension students. The sooner the office communicates fluctuations in the student body to RSSP, the better.
If on-campus housing is not available, the campus should also work with off-campus private housing alternatives to provide incoming students with a variety of quality off-campus options. Having the campus vet and endorse other housing options could make students feel safer if they choose to forgo the crowded residence halls and live off-campus the first year they come to UC Berkeley.
RSSP says that converting floor lounges for students to live in is a temporary solution and that almost all students would be moved out of the lounges when regular rooms become available in the spring. This cannot even be a last-resort option, as it is not conducive to a comfortable living environment.