New campus housing fosters freshman interaction

Ashley Gordon

Construction on the $30.1 million new student housing complex, created to promote social engagement among its residents, will be completed by May 2009.

‘The new residence halls are designed to create social interaction that will help first-year students get to know one another and become better connected to their peers and to the campus,’ said Tim Trevan, director of Student Housing.

All single students are eligible to live in the new housing located between University Park Apartments (UPA) and the university’s outdoor track. However, Trevan said, by design, it’s primarily geared towards first-year freshman.

The complex is sectioned into living clusters of 32 students. There are two students to each bedroom with a bathroom shared by four residents. Each cluster is provided a common area and study room.

Student housing resident Cathy Smith recognizes current housing doesn’t lend itself to social interaction.

‘The dorms now, they’re cool, you have your own space like an apartment,’ said Smith, a junior liberal studies and Spanish major. ‘But you’re able to hide in your own space.’
Smith said, ‘If you’re forced to be around people at all times you are going to socialize.’

Samantha Liu lived in student housing during her first semester at CSUN and like Smith said the layout of the current apartments isn’t conducive to social interaction.

‘I think it will force them to make new friends within the community,’ Liu, a junior health and education major, said in reference to the new complex.

‘You were forced to get to know the people who were in your room but not the people in your hall,’ she added when discussing her own experience in housing.

Trevan said the demand for student housing may be less this year however all occupancies are expected to be filled as the housing department anticipates having a waiting list soon after the April 10 preferred application date.

‘Last year, we had about 800 students on a waiting list by mid-summer,’ he said. ‘We believe that the waiting list will be shorter this year, but we still anticipate filling all spaces by early summer.’

Trevan added that it’s important to apply by the April 10 date in order to be provided a space.

‘At the beginning of the year the whole waiting list thing sucks,’ Smith said. ‘I’ve known people who had to commute for a while, maybe until the middle of the semester.’

Liu said she believes the new complex will help decrease demand because at one point she knew there were hundreds and hundreds of people on the waitlist.

A little less money than the current apartments, new kitchen-less suites are priced at $4,779 for the 2009-2010 academic year. An apartment double without a kitchen in the UPA is $4,995.

The cost of the new complex is comparable to off-campus housing if you factor in all the services, resources and support staff afforded to on-campus students, according to Tresvan.

‘The convenience of being able to have a contract for one furnished bedspace for the academic year rather than being contractually obligated to the entire unfurnished apartment rent for a calendar year, as is standard for off-campus apartments,’ Trevan pointed out.

Smith said if she was to get in the dorms she’d probably stay in the more spacious apartments.

‘I’m not totally opposed to the idea but I’d choose my roommate,’ she said with a chuckle.