As Enrollment Balloons, Graduate Students Seek Housing Solutions

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Photo by Dominick Ojeda / Staff Photographer

Hannah Maerowitz
Staff Writer

Despite rumors that some graduate students were evicted from their residences in San Clemente Villages, grad students and the university are collaborating to find a solution to a larger housing crisis.

Housing contracts for San Clemente guarantee two years of housing. Before enrollment numbers increased and the rent of San Clemente decreased, however, many students lived in San Clemente long past the two-year mark.

When the price of alternative housing increased, more grad students began signing contracts to live in San Clemente.

According to Cierra Raine Sorin, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Vice President of Communications and Records, the university guaranteed two years of housing in San Clemente for graduate students who are enrolling in fall 2018. However, there were not enough beds for both existing and new residents of San Clemente.

Letters were sent to current residents, notifying them that they would be asked to leave after their contracts ended to accommodate the influx of new students.

“Initially, there was some panic,” said Sorin in an interview with The Bottom Line. “However, the university never did anything that was not already communicated to students and nobody’s contract was violated. The narrative that people were issued eviction notices is simply not true.”

To combat the issue, the university allowed students to be let out of their contracts early if they found housing elsewhere, negating the typical charge of between $250 and $350 for breaking a housing contract.

GSA also advocated on behalf of grad students to help them find alternative housing options. GSA executives collaborated with the Community Housing Office to host weekly bagel hours last quarter, where grad students could meet representatives from apartment complexes in the local area and explore more housing options. The entity is also partnering with the administration to explore sustainable solutions to the housing crisis. Housing contracts are currently being negotiated across the state.

“We know that this is only a temporary solution to a larger housing crisis that affects all of UCSB’s students. Lots of UCs are dealing with housing issues right now,” said Sorin.

Both undergraduate and graduate enrollment in the UC system has skyrocketed in recent years, with 198,866 students enrolling for the 2015-2016 year and 216,747 enrolling for the 2017-2018 year.

As enrollment increases, accommodations must be made to ensure continued quality of life and education for UC students. Without a focus on solutions, housing insecurity will only be one of the many symptoms of increased enrollment.

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