To UC Berkeley: Students deserve far better than bedbugs and broken washing machines

CAMPUS ISSUES: Students cannot be expected to succeed academically while living in appalling campus housing conditions

A student in a dorm room with a sleeping bag and a bed without a mattress and a rat and rows of ants
Emily Bi/Staff

This past Saturday, UC Berkeley hosted Cal Day to showcase the campus and community to potential new students. Students admitted to UC Berkeley for the fall 2019 term are getting ready to submit their statements of intent to register — if they haven’t already — and are touring the campus every day.

But if administrators truly want to make a convincing case for attending “the No. 1 public university,” they need to start by remedying poor living conditions in campus housing.

Last month, an anonymous Facebook post on the Confessions from UC Berkeley page exposed abysmal living conditions in Stern Hall, the only all-women undergraduate residence hall on campus. Despite numerous complaints by students alleging issues of vermin on site, cold showers and broken washing machines, these concerns have yet to be completely resolved.

Many new students look to on-campus housing as a way to acclimate to their new college environment. Freshmen and transfer students, who are learning how to navigate UC Berkeley’s expansive campus for the first time, shouldn’t have to deal with miserable conditions on top of classes, exams and extracurriculars. Living with bedbug infestations and broken appliances could drastically impact students’ health, focus and energy. How can any student be expected to succeed academically when the conditions in their campus residence hall have forced them to sleep on a concrete floor?

In an email to The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley spokesperson Adam Ratliff said, “It can take some time” to address problems like rodent activity, but that the campus is committed to ensuring that these issues are resolved. Ratliff also outlined steps that students can take to report issues with their living space, such as notifying residence hall staff. But clearly, these steps need to be more readily accessible and transparent to students — students should always feel empowered to voice concerns, not just speak up in response to a viral social media post.

Many women who choose to live in the only all-women residence hall at UC Berkeley do so to feel safe and included in their living space. If repairs and rodent activity will “take some time” to address, these women need legitimate solutions in the meantime — and they need them now.

The bottom line is simple: All students on campus must have their basic needs met, which includes healthy and inclusive living conditions. It’s unacceptable that students have had to pay to sleep on the floor and live with vermin. Resolving issues so fundamental to students’ basic well-being cannot be dragged on for so long.

On basic needs, UC Berkeley must make students feel supported, rather than just another number on a list.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.