Pitzer College student senators are calling for on-campus housing for participants in the college’s New Resources Students (NRS) program in a resolution they plan to present today to the Pitzer Office of Student Affairs.
The NRS program, which allows students at least 25 years old to complete a bachelor’s degree at the college, gives students access to special grants and an on-campus lounge but does not allow them to live on campus.
The resolution, authored by Chance Kawar PZ ’17, the representative for Pitzer, Atherton, and Sandborn Halls, and New Resources Student Representative Audrey Kolb PZ ’14, asks the administration to offer some form of housing to students in the program as quickly as possible.
“The resolution itself does not recommend a certain way to [make housing available],” Pitzer Student Senate Chair Nicholas Romo PZ ’14 said. “It just urges the Office of Student Affairs to conduct a reevaluation of their housing policy.”
Kawar said that making room for New Resources students on campus would not be a challenge logistically.
“The fact is that there are available rooms right now,” Kawar said. “There are about 20 beds available that are unfilled, and the college is actually losing money by not filling those spaces.”
When the NRS program was founded in 1974, Kolb said, most participants were local mothers with adult children who wished to return to school. Since they lived nearby, housing was not considered necessary. Now, however, most NRS students are single individuals 25-35 years old.
“This is the demographic that would actually be living on campus,” Kolb said. “It’s not people who other students might find old and creepy; it’s people that are not that different [in age] from the regular population.”
She estimated that only about five current students in the program would move on campus if Pitzer allowed them to do so.
For some New Resources students, Pitzer’s lack of housing assistance is especially challenging. Kawar said he recently spoke to a student in the program who was only able to find housing an hour away in a gang-ridden neighborhood of Los Angeles.
“When he makes his one-hour commute home every night, he’s worrying about being shot by a gang, and not about studying for his midterm coming up next week,” Kawar said. “I think when you have a situation like that, it’s not good for the students, and it’s not good for the college.”
For Kolb, New Resources housing has been an ongoing issue. She and several other New Resources students met with Pitzer President Laura Skandera Trombley last spring to discuss the problem, but saw little immediate action in response.
Kolb also sits on a newly formed ad hoc housing committee chaired by Pitzer Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Carlisle, which met for the first time Oct. 22 to reevaluate housing policies for the college as a whole. Kolb said that housing for students in the program were one of the items that were discussed.
Kolb said that personnel changes in the Office of Student Affairs helped clear the way for new discussions about New Resources student housing. She said that Carlisle and Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life Drew Herbert have been especially supportive.
“They’re fresh blood, they’re energized to make change, and they’re really great to work with,” Kolb said.
Administrators were not available for comment.