UC Berkeley expects to house some students at off-campus sites in Oakland at Mills College and Holy Names University beginning this fall.
The push for more campus housing comes as a result of the campus’s plans to add 750 students next fall. That decision came after the University of California agreed to take in 10,000 more in-state students in the next three years in exchange for $25 million in additional state funding.
The program will likely accommodate a small number of students, however, as Mills College only has space for 51 students next year. Transportation and the actual number of students living off-campus have yet to be finalized and would be contingent on the number of students who apply for the program.
The new housing will not be aimed at incoming freshmen and a UC Berkeley liaison would live with the students. Mills College’s Dean of Students Chicora Martin said they hoped the absence of freshmen would mean the students “would already have a connection to Berkeley.”
“We’ll do everything we can to be good hosts and to make them feel welcome,” Martin said, adding that they believed there are “benefits to being in an academic setting, even if it’s not your home campus.”
HNU’s director of housing and residence life, Justin Vacca, declined to comment on the possibility of UC Berkeley students living at HNU, citing ongoing negotiations. Though their official partnership with HNU has yet to be finalized, Cal Housing sent emails to students on the 2016-17 housing waitlist, informing them that HNU and Mills College would accommodate 50 UC Berkeley students, each.
“I thought they might be offering me housing, but when I read through and saw the names I thought it was a joke,” said UC Berkeley sophomore Taylor Lee of the email. “It just seemed a little ridiculous, considering the distance.”
ASUC Senator Boomer Vicente expressed concern about housing students at Mills College and HNU regarding the limited number of spaces and the distance between UC Berkeley and Oakland. Mills College is about nine miles away from UC Berkeley, and HNU is about seven and a half miles away.
Vicente added that he hoped that students and city officials will continue to work on solving the lack of affordable housing for students.
“It worried me mainly because we have run out of on-campus housing, that we have to seek out other universities around the Bay Area to accommodate students,” Vicente said. “It worries me that a lot of students next year won’t even have a place to live or an affordable or accessible place to live.”
UC Berkeley has promised to provide some form of housing to every student who indicated they would be comfortable living in any form of campus housing, said campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff in an email. The campus has also announced longer-term projects for housing students, such as plans to accommodate about 770 students by fall 2018 where Stiles Hall is currently located.
“UC Berkeley officials are pleased to welcome more California students to the Berkeley campus and are working with all deliberate speed to accommodate them,” Ratliff said in an email. “Typically, more than 90 percent of new freshmen live in on-campus housing and we expect that to continue.”