Students need housing. That is why UC Santa Cruz must move forward and build Student Housing West, write administrators Akirah Bradley-Armstrong and Ed Reiskin. “UCSC is built into a stunning natural landscape, and building anywhere on our iconic campus is a tightrope walk,” they say. But Student Housing West — with 3,000 units, including 140 at the foot of campus — offers the best chance to house students soon and to help relieve the community housing burden.
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UC Santa Cruz students need housing.
We know this, and as a university we are actively working to provide it for them. That is why the current work renovating and expanding Kresge College — which will add more than 600 beds to the college — and building the Student Housing West project are essential.
Student Housing West, long delayed by opponent lawsuits but consistently upheld by the courts, is the fastest and most direct way to provide 3,000 more units of on-campus housing. It will help meet the needs of existing students, some of whom are living two, three or more to a room in already scarce housing in the city and county. Others are braving long commutes to stay enrolled. In August, there were 2,000 students on the waitlist for campus housing, a number that understates the actual demand.
We want every student enrolled at UCSC to have a rich educational experience and to take advantage of the cultural opportunities and breathtaking natural surroundings of our campus. They can’t do this when they don’t have safe and stable housing. The diversity in our student ranks is growing, and we are proud to be educating an increasing number of first-generation and low-income students. These students particularly need our support and housing options that are affordable and close to campus.
When built, Student Housing West will allow us to provide more than 3,000 new beds for upper-division students, graduate students and students with families, enabling them to move onto or continue living on campus, instead of seeking housing in the local community. The project also includes a new child care center for 140 kids that will enable the campus to expand services to include the children of faculty and staff, in addition to students.
Opponents are fond of saying they support on-campus housing, but not in one location or another.
The truth is, UCSC is built into a stunning natural landscape, and building anywhere on our iconic campus is a tightrope walk.
Faculty, staff, alumni, students and campus supporters have intense feelings about what should be built on our campus and where. We must remember, though, that our mission encompasses educating the next generation of leaders and change-makers. We remain committed to respecting our unique landscape, and also helping our students confront the very real, immediate challenges they face, particularly in regard to housing.
Locating the portion of Student Housing West that will include new housing for families and the child care center close to the entrance to campus is smart planning. It is across the road from existing faculty and staff housing and within walking distance to a public elementary school, making sense for our students and employees.
Student Housing West allows us to deliver on our mission of serving students, and is essential for a number of reasons:
- Housing is key to student success. Students living in campus housing are more likely to persist and graduate, according to many studies that look at factors influencing student success.
- It will provide our students with quality, affordable housing.
- It will provide affordable family housing. UCSC family housing is occupied almost equally by undergraduate and graduate students.
- It will greatly increase campus child care. Accessibility of child-care services is critical to the retention and recruitment of faculty, staff and students.
- It will ease the strain on the local housing market. Santa Cruz remains in a housing crisis and this project will create 3,000 units and reduce student housing demand in the community.
Our students — and the Santa Cruz community — face a worsening housing crisis. As stewards of our students’ education and trusted members of the community, we take our role in resolving this crisis seriously. We are here to see our students and our community succeed, and Student Housing West will help us deliver on that promise.
Akirah Bradley-Armstrong is UC Santa Cruz’s vice chancellor for student affairs and success. Ed Reiskin is vice chancellor for finance, operations and administration.