Students pay for their dorms, so why are they locked out during breaks?

SDSU’s student housing policy makes life unnecessarily difficult for residents.

by Dana Tsuri-Etzioni, Staff Columnist

San Diego State requires non-local freshmen to live on campus during their first year. The new “Sophomore Success” program will also require non-local sophomores to live on campus, beginning with the 2017 freshman class. On-campus housing is important because it allows students to integrate into campus life and socialize. However, there are underlying issues that need to be discussed.

One issue is the fact that the Office of Housing claims students pay for a full nine months of dorm residency and meal plans. In reality, many students can’t even access their dorms for all of winter break and other breaks such as spring break. “An expense calculation (has been made) for additional staffing. We don’t have to pay for (all the RA’s), if they go home as well (during those breaks),” said Eric Hansen, director of the Office of Housing Administration. This; however, doesn’t explain why students are paying from December 21through January 16 when most can’t even access the dorms.

Even if the expenses students pay during that time frame go toward other operational costs and not the actual housing, it should be explicitly stated. Instead, on the housing website under the pricing for meal plans and housing it reads, “Based on 9- month license agreement. Includes 9- month ARC membership, activity fee, and service fee.” Reading this, it seems as if students have complete access to their dorms for the nine months they pay. In reality, this isn’t true.

Students’ whole lives are in their dorm rooms — it is their home for the school year. It is unjust for them to not have access to their dorms during breaks — especially long ones. If a student needs housing over break, they need to notify the school in advance and move their items to a residence hall that is open during those breaks. When asked if students have access to items they really needed and forgot in their dorms, Hansen replied, “We will work with them, they’ll call our central office, and we’ll have them come in and be escorted to their rooms.” So even if someone forgot a really small item they felt they needed, they would be forced to go through this process just to get into their own room.

The Sophomore Success program is being implemented starting next year. Its stated goal is to have a higher level of students graduate. The reason these two are correlated is because it was found that students living on campus perform better academically than those who don’t. It’s important to secure student success, but this program forces students to pay a large amount of money two years in a row.

“Although it costs more to live on campus, the return on investment in terms of student success more than outweighs that additional expense,” Hansen said. “Students are graduating instead of leaving the institution without a degree or having to take extra years.”

Shouldn’t this be the student’s responsibility and not the school’s choice to make? Aren’t college students adults who can make these decisions on their own without the school making them pay for an extra year of on-campus housing?

Overall, changes need to be made regarding the policy of housing over breaks as well as the mandated requirements for students to live in on-campus housing for multiple years. It shouldn’t be difficult for students to access their items, and they shouldn’t be forced to move to a completely different building if their hall doesn’t provide housing over break.