Student Senate pitches idea to build on-campus housing

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Student Senate pitches idea to build on-campus housing

MEGAN VELZY-LENINGTON, Channels Staff

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The Associated Student Government has begun launching its campaign for affordable housing for City College students, despite not gaining formal support from the Academic Senate.

“There is a vast area of people impacted because of lack of housing,” said Student Trustee Emily Gribble. “We need housing. We need it desperately.”

With a housing crisis plaguing Santa Barbara County and an awareness of prevalent student homelessness, the student senate seeks to alleviate some of the strain felt by the community and students by building on-campus housing.

The senate spearheaded the initiative for affordable student housing due to the extent of student homelessness, and how detrimental it can be for their success. The senate has been supporting other initiatives aimed toward struggling students by submitting their recommendations to the Board of Trustees for free showers available for homeless youth.

“We don’t want to be silent anymore,” said Maggie Hodgins, commissioner of clubs.

“We recognize that student housing and student homelessness is a big issue with our students,” chimed in Kevin McCabe, Isla Vista community representative.

Ideas for student housing have been suggested before with significant push back from community members. The initiative was pitched to the Academic Senate, but was criticized for its naivety and unrealistic approach, and a lack of knowledge of regulations of what is actually possible for any sort of housing situation.

“Some of the [academic] senators thought it was a bit short sided,” said Academic President Priscilla Butler while discussing the senate’s response to the purpose built housing initiative presented to them last week. “Building housing is a very complicated procedure.”

Butler explained that the school does not have the budget to build or purchase a building any time soon because of its severe deficit, which is expected to grow in the coming year. Space for a new building is also limited, and regulations prohibit building at the risk of blocking coastal views or threatening ecological restoration.

“We are extremely regulated by the California Coastal Commission,” Butler said.

Although the Academic Senate cannot endorse the initiative as it is, they are open to review it again if the student senate revises certain phrases. Butler also encourages other avenues be explored to help ease the burden of finding housing.

“People need to understand the challenges our out of area students face as far as finding quality reasonable housing,” she said. “That is an issue and it is definitely worth the college looking at instead of taking the hands off approach that has been the norm.”

Senators are adamant that the initiative should remain geared toward purpose built housing. They instead are planning on building a following of students that will bring awareness to the issue and rally together. The senate voted to approve a $500 budget to begin gathering information  and building a following.

“I understand the opposition, but they have to understand our students’ needs,” McCabe said. “The more we rally and support this the more unavoidable it will be to ignore us.”

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