The Associated Students Senate unanimously passed a resolution on May 27 to address potential financial implications students may face, should the university choose to make available only single or double rooms for Fall Quarter 2020.
While the UC has yet to announce whether it will hold an in-person fall quarter in light of the coronavirus pandemic, UC Santa Barbara may decrease its on-campus room availability to comply with social distancing practices, according to the resolution’s author, On-Campus Senator Dania De Ramon, a first-year communication major.
Jill Hurd, Director of Residential & Community Living at UCSB, did not comment directly on the fall quarter housing situation, instead saying in an email that, “campus leadership is still working on what fall quarter will look like in this COVID environment … there’s still too many unknowns right now.”
For those who chose to stay on-campus for Spring Quarter 2020, the university moved all remaining students into single rooms at Santa Catalina Residence Hall, but charged them about $1,500 less for the rooms — and the corresponding meal plans — than the posted rates.
Come fall quarter, De Ramon worries that incoming students and returning students who have already signed housing contracts will only have the option of living in single or double rooms and may still be charged the normal rates. Her Senate resolution, which is positional and only takes a stance on the issue, urges the university to “bear the increased financial consequences of a situation that is essentially out of their control.”
According to the resolution, this could come in the shape of university-subsidized housing, where students are exempted from paying any potential inflations in room and board prices if their housing rates increase as a result of room availability changes.
“We believe UCSB’s Housing department should not inflate room and board prices in an effort to make up for any lost revenue from students who decide not to, or are unable to, live on-campus during a possible [sic] hybrid/online course period,” the resolution continued.
Gurleen Pabla, a first-year political science major and on-campus senator who seconded the resolution, said she is concerned that students of color, low-income students and first-generation students will be “disproportionately disadvantaged” if the only options for on-campus housing are singles or doubles.
“There’s a lot of students that otherwise wouldn’t have to take out as many loans or spend as much time also doing a job just to maintain a single or a double when they could have comfortably, or at least not been so concerned, with living in a triple or quad,” Pabla said.
“It’s unfair to students that just want to have a fun college life and that are now having to deal with this concern of a price [for a single or double room],” she continued.
According to UCSB’s housing website, the 2019-20 rate of a triple room with fourteen meals a week is $15,767 per year. The rate of a double room with 14 meals a week is $17,767, $2,000 more than the triple, and the rate of a single room with 14 meals a week is $19,267, $3,500 more per year than the triple room.
With the precarity of fall quarter in mind, De Ramon said “it’s really important that the university, and every department within the university, always puts students and the needs of students before any sort of profit or revenue.”