Amid growing demand, UC Berkeley housing capacity remains uncertain

Photo of Unit 3 dorms
Jessica Schwabach/File
According to UC Berkeley spokesperson Adam Ratliff, some parts of campus’s housing plans for the 2021-22 academic year have not been finalized yet. Ratliff noted that applicants who are part of certain groups, such as students with disabilities and student athletes, will be given priority for housing offers.

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For many students, the first year of college is marked by one of the most familiar trappings of campus life: the residence hall.

But for UC Berkeley freshman Aamir Hudda, that was not necessarily the case.

With the pandemic steadfastly looming over, Hudda began college life not in a residence hall but at home. However, as the spring semester approached, Hudda said he and his current roommate decided to apply for on-campus housing.

“We wanted to be on campus and get whatever was left of the freshman experience,” Hudda said.

Instead of a dorm, however, Hudda ended up in the campus-affiliated apartment complex New Sequoia, which he describes as a mixture of transfer students and continuing students of various years.

Hudda said he has enjoyed having his own space at New Sequoia, but noted that he did not notice many freshmen living there.

Ahead of next year, Hudda said he and a group of friends have applied again for UC Berkeley housing but have not received an offer yet.

Given the uncertainty of securing campus housing, Hudda said he and his housing group are looking for off-campus housing instead.

“It wasn’t necessarily a necessity to have campus housing,” Hudda explained. “(But) it would have been nice, just because you’d have that community of Berkeley students right there.”

Some elements of UC Berkeley’s housing plans also remain uncertain as campus awaits public health guidance to determine its overall capacity for the 2021-22 academic year, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff.

Campus also will not be able to grant most continuing students their requested roommate, Ratliff said in an email. He added that this is because campus is currently unaware of its approved occupancy load for the next year.

In light of this, Ratliff noted campus will prioritize applicants who are part of certain groups, including students with disabilities and student athletes, among others.

Newly admitted freshmen and some transfer students will also receive priority for housing offers but will not be “guaranteed” one, Ratliff said.

“We are not yet certain how roommate assignments for first year freshmen/transfers will work, but are optimistic that we will be able to pair first year students with their requested roommates,” Ratliff said in the email.

Recognizing the high demand for student housing, Ratliff said future development is centered around the 2016 housing master plan, which has called for 7,500 student beds to be added by 2028.

To meet this goal, Ratliff said campus is planning to first develop the “best and closest” sites while also relocating some campus structures, such as administrative buildings, for more student housing.

In the meantime — and while on-campus housing remains in high demand — Ratliff said campus encourages students looking to live off campus to take advantage of resources such as Cal Rentals.

“We understand that many students will want to live near campus in order to take in-person classes, use campus facilities, and spend time with other students when public health guidance allows,” Ratliff said in the email. “We recommend that they do their research now and make their housing selection as soon as possible.”

Contact Hanna Lykke at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hannaathearstDC.