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a standard double in North Quad

Plaintive emails and rampant rumors about Claremont McKenna College’s very own housing crisis leave many students picturing hundred of homeless CMC’ers posting up in tents on Green Beach. Ever since the Dean of Students office asked students to volunteer to either move off-campus or create triples out of double rooms, the buzz on campus seems to revolve around who is willing to make sacrifices for returning CMC’ers – and most students are less than enthusiastic. Katie Browning, a junior studying abroad in Chile, puts the problem in terms we can all understand with what she calls “The Pong Dilemma.” She explains, “Everyone loves the game and wants to play, but there are never enough tables for everyone to show off their bounce shots at once! Someone’s gotta be kicked out and go fill out the slap cup team.” The slap cup team may be less glamorous – but what if skipping out on those glorious bounce shots saved you $400? It appears the question now is, who’s going to volunteer to join the slap cup team?

A standard double in North Quad

Unbeknownst to most students, the housing situation at CMC is as intricate and impossible to predict as a 3-D puzzle with a thousand pieces. Among the contributing factors to the problem are the number of students who study abroad or off-campus in D.C., the number of students taking/returning from a leave of absence, those that are suspended, transfer in, or drop out of/extend their study abroad experience. Additionally, the financial aid CMC offers has fewer students choosing to transfer out of CMC. Kristen Mallory, the director of the Off-Campus Study office, is one of the lucky administrators in charge of juggling all these students and figures. She estimates that roughly 10-20 students will be without beds on campus but will not know for sure until January when all these factors play out.

Though Dean Eric Vos declined to be interviewed until the issue has settled down, it is clear that the housing dilemma continues, in part, because many students are reluctant to move into triples or find housing off-campus. Freshman Lauren Henderson believes the Deans’ request is unreasonable, stating, “There might be enough room for an extra bed, but definitely not enough room for another person’s stuff.” Students in singles are just as resistant to the idea of losing their coveted spots. Even students who look at the situation objectively, like freshman Amelia Evrigenis, worry that there are too many variables. Evrigenis offers “I thought that it might be a good opportunity to live in a triple, but I didn’t know how my roommate would feel about it, who could move in, or if I’d really want to commit to that.” As an LA native currently abroad in China, Priscilla Hsu offers “if worst came to worst I could attempt to commute from home” but explains that solutions like this one are more logistically difficult (and costly) than living at CMC.  It seems students and administration alike are scrambling to find a favorable solution.

Berger Hall holds 32 singles

From on-campus resources, financial difficulties, to missing out on part of the college experience, off-campus students shared their worries about returning without housing. Hsu explains that the issue is of great financial importance.  She offered that her decision to live on- or off-campus would be contingent on the meal plan and financial aid benefits and that she would be “really upset” if she didn’t have on-campus housing. Quinn Chasan, a junior spending his semester in Washington D.C., also vehemently professed his desire to remain on-campus. He recognizes the benefits of living inside the CMC bubble, “I’ve lived on my own for the past 6 months here in DC…So, no, I want to have all of the amenities that come with dorm life.” Browning appeals to her fellow students saying, “If there wasn’t a place for me on campus I would feel like I was missing out…the experiences you remember the most and that stay with you for the longest are those that happen at 3 in the morning on a Tuesday night when you really should be in bed.”

 CMC’ers on-campus and off-campus alike voiced their concerns over the way the situation was handled.  Browning explains that despite the fact that CMC doesn’t necessarily guarantee housing, “it almost seems like they do” since about 97% of students live on campus according to CMC’s Residential Life webpage. The number of students willing to bite the bullet–or join the proverbial slap-cup team–and move off-campus or into a triple is in fact dwindling, but this is no new problem. This year, Scripps College (as CMC has done in the past) will rent out a floor of one of Pomona’s dorms and house 20+ students on their campus. CMC almost followed suit until a student suggested allowing students to move off campus. This message was incorrectly conveyed to the student body at large and, voilà, the rumors began that the DOS office was kicking students out of their rooms and forcing them into bad housing situations.

Dean Eric's most recent email to students

Mallory explains her office’s sticky situation stating, “I know everyone wants to study abroad with their friends, or be an RA, or have an internship. I know all these reasons yet something has to give. So what do I do?” Though many students are eager to offer criticism, few CMC’ers are willing to offer viable solutions. Regardless, almost all students interviewed agreed that they would have appreciated a warning further in advance. Freshman David Leathers agrees there is simply not enough time and “finals and the holidays are going to dominate student’s minds [more than] a $410 financial incentive.” Browning offers a humorous alternative to the housing hubbub, calling out to her fellow students, “Is anyone down for Occupy Pomona’s New Dorms?” even offering, “I’ll help make the signs.”

 If this year constitutes housing mayhem, housing pandemonium may break out next year as well.  Mallory reports that the off-campus survey she sent out asking who was interested in studying abroad pulled in responses from 170 students who plan on studying abroad in the Fall and 77 who plan on going abroad the Spring term.  Mallory explains that the problem is not the Dean of Students Office, the Off-Campus Study Office, or the students themselves.  The real obstacle is that students enjoy living on campus so much that fewer in recent years have wanted to leave.  The problem, she states, “It’s no one’s fault.  It’s that people love CMC.  And that’s a good problem to have.” This housing crisis is up to you, CMC students, to fix.  If you truly have stag pride and CMC love, approach your administration with your own solution.

25 COMMENTS

  1. $410 savings for a triple seems like a real rip off.

    2 x 3617.50 = 7,235.00
    3 x 3207.50 = 9,622.50

    • Solution: Make the students in a triple-double divide the $7235 cost, rather than jacking up the cost to $9622.

      Savings per student: about $1200.

      Personally, I still wouldn’t do this – but it’s at least a less laughable incentive than $410

    • Solution: Make the students in a triple-double divide the $7235 cost, rather than jacking up the cost to $9622.

      Savings per student: about $1200.

      Personally, I still wouldn’t do this – but it’s at least a less laughable incentive than $410

  2. I’m not sure if center court is still there, but assuming enough faculty and staff have moved out of it, it could be repurposed to house students.

    Alternatively, what about temporary housing? There are lots of options, but after a cursory search online, I found a place with repurposed shipping containers located in Santa Rosa. No foundations or assembly are required. It says they’re always in stock and ready to ship.

    There are units without bathrooms and separate units that have bathrooms and showers. There are also units with bathrooms. And while they have preequipped units, they have units which are empty, and could easily be furnished with dorm furniture.

    http://www.chuckhouses.com/ 

  3. I’m not sure if center court is still there, but assuming enough faculty and staff have moved out of it, it could be repurposed to house students.

    Alternatively, what about temporary housing? There are lots of options, but after a cursory search online, I found a place with repurposed shipping containers located in Santa Rosa. No foundations or assembly are required. It says they’re always in stock and ready to ship.

    There are units without bathrooms and separate units that have bathrooms and showers. There are also units with bathrooms. And while they have preequipped units, they have units which are empty, and could easily be furnished with dorm furniture.

    http://www.chuckhouses.com/ 

    • Unfortunately we cannot use Center Court as it is not zoned for residential use.

      I like the Chuck Houses idea.  But where would we put them?  Parents Field?  We could call it East Quad?

  4. I think it is preposterous that juniors who chose to go abroad, something that the school promotes, should be penalized for making this decision. But in the same way, I don’t think freshmen should be penalized either, but that is the way things work in this world. It seems that certain doubles should be made into triples, preferably the bigger doubles, and freshmen should be moved there. It seems strange that a freshman would have a single when a junior can’t even get on campus housing. Moving freshmen might seem unfair, but this hierarchical structure already exists in usual room draw and class registration times. The reality is that juniors are and should be given more benefits and priority when it comes to these things. And I agree with what is said, those who have to move into triples should be given the appropriate financial incentive. 

    • I think this is ridiculous. My parents do not pay full tuition for me to be put in a triple. Maybe you shouldn’t have gone abroad. 

      • Maybe CMC should have been more selective in their admissions and not have accepted such an ignorant, entitled applicant. You sound like a better fit for Pomona anyway.

      • Maybe CMC should have been more selective in their admissions and not have accepted such an ignorant, entitled applicant. You sound like a better fit for Pomona anyway.

      • Maybe CMC should have been more selective in their admissions and not have accepted such an ignorant, entitled applicant. You sound like a better fit for Pomona anyway.

      • Hey, Freshman, guess what? My parents are paying full tuition to CMC, too, even though my abroad program is cheaper than if I were on campus. So if we are playing that game, then my parents are actually donating money to the school. Using your logic, I’d say that I am even less-deserving of a triple than you are. But thank god no one is using your logic. 

  5. Anyone else here seen BioDome? Why not make it an “experiement” where students live in the new Kravis Center Living Room? #werecomingkimandkourtney

  6. The biggest reason for the housing crunch is that there are a different number of students who study abroad in the spring vs the fall. The school rather have a housing crunch in the spring than have too much housing in the fall – it’s less expensive that way. The solution is obvious and already said by all: squeeze everyone in a bit tighter in the spring, but only into a reasonable condition. If more housing is needed after that, it seems that the most simple solution is to price each room differently, with off-campus the cheapest. Off-campus housing should be subsidized by the school and included in the room draw, or only 3% of students would want to consider the option. 

    • Junior, though you make good point about fall vs spring abroad programs, is it not the school’s responsibility to create a more even split between fall vs spring abroad students? If you don’t agree, at least you must concede that it is the school’s responsibility to give their students (who have paid for 2+ years of tuition already) a CLEAR PICTURE of what the housing situation will be upon their return BEFORE THEY MAKE THE CHOICE TO GO ABROAD.

      Correct me if I am mistaken, but doesn’t CMC actually put a cap on the number of students who are permitted to live off-campus? I understand that if they leave rooms open that is money that they are not making, but its funny that its biting them in the ass now.

      IMO, this is CMC’s fault and no one else’s. It is their responsibility to come up with a solution that makes economic sense for CMC families (questionable at this point). They have to deal with their own administrative and managerial mistakes.

      I truly feel bad for students coming back from abroad who are getting absolutely shafted.

      An injustice to the students.

  7. Have a random lottery that requires some portion of the freshman class to live in triples. Let the three people split the price of the double. Logical solution, saves the people money instead of giving people a measly 400 some odd dollars that adds insult to injury.

    How hard is that? Instead of asking students for the solutions maybe the administration should think of some logical ones and implement them in a timely manner. After all, isn’t that what they are paid to do?

    • Logic has no place in housing decisions… come on now, you’ve been here long enough to know that

  8. pretty sly of vos to not tell anyone that hard alcohol is prohibited in the pomona rooms they’re putting cmcers in… http://www.pomona.edu/administration/campus-life/residential-life/resident-halls-policies.pdf 

  9. Great article, Clancy!

    I agree with the other commenters that this shortcoming is simply ridiculous. It seems like the problem is actually much more simple than “a 3-D puzzle with a thousand pieces.” From the information in your article it looks like it all relies on about six or seven straightforward variables that presumably change relatively little each year. The administration should give all the historic data to the students in the FEI, the Lowe, and the Student Investment Fund. I guarantee you they can whip up a model in a few days that uses recent trends to head off future problems. There is no way that this data is more volatile than the markets have been in recent years.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

    Cheers,
    Connor

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