This year, Claremont McKenna College and Pomona College both made adjustments to their housing to accommodate all of the students requesting on-campus housing. While Pomona was able to house all students on campus, CMC is housing 15 transfer students in apartments at the Brighton Park complex, located north of the Claremont Consortium.
“This year at CMC, we had more students that were interested in on-campus housing than we had beds for,” Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sharon Basso said. “When we opened the year, we had no spaces on campus.”
This housing shortage was not caused by overenrollment in the first year class, as has happened in the past, but by “more upper class students on leaves [of absence] deciding to return … than typically,” Basso said.
CMC attempted to address this issue by converting larger double rooms into triples and converting rooms in Stark Residence Hall designed “to be lounges and/or rooms, which had been both in the past several years” into rooms, according to Basso.
The other colleges in the Claremont consortium, which have previously allowed other colleges to use empty housing spaces, were all full when CMC enquired about housing students there. The College Park complex, where CMC and other colleges in the consortium have housed students in the past was also full, so CMC’s housing office began looking at Brighton Park as a possibility for additional housing.
“I did a lot of recon … prior to students moving in. Brighton Park is as close as College Park, but in the other direction,” Basso said. The apartments are “really good accommodations,” “beautiful,” and have “a common living room, new furniture, marble countertops, and a community pool.”
According to Basso, the apartments are actually closer to some buildings at CMC and other 5C campuses than CMC housing.
The college also has several resources in place to build community among the students at Brighton Park and make them feel like part of the CMC campus community. Interim Director of Residence Life Jamie Kammerman is living at Brighton Park with the students. In addition, CMC has organized a breakfast with Kammerman at Brighton Park, dinner with CMC President Hiram Chodosh, and an RA liaison for the complex.
CMC provided students living at Brighton Park with a free meal plan of five lunches per week, offered free bikes to each of the students to ease their commute to campus, set up lockers on campus for the students to store their books, and provided a residential technology advisor to help the students with technology issues.
So far, the students at Brighton Park are satisfied with the living space.
“Students have really been doing okay with it,” Basso said. “I have not heard complaints or concerns … beyond what is typical.”
“Apartment management has been responsive if there are any needs within the apartment,” Kammerman added.
CMC is already looking towards the next semester and next school year in its housing planning.
“We are talking about doing some sort of preferential room draw process for the folks that ended up at Brighton Park,” Basso said. Since there is no exact science to preventing overenrollment, Basso said that there are “ongoing enrollment management meetings.”
“The most immediate thing we’re looking at right now is [the number of] students abroad who are returning in spring,” to ensure that they can be accommodated when they return, she added.
Additionally, Basso noted that CMC is very satisfied with the situation at Brighton Park so far, and would consider housing students there again if necessary.
“I think as a social situation and experiment … the Brighton Park thing has gone very well, and if we had to use it again, we might go back to that, rather than tell people, ‘hunt and peck on your own,'” Basso said.
Although Pomona is not housing students off campus this year, Pomona’s housing staff has made adjustments to accommodate all students.
“The current junior class was the largest class in Pomona’s history. We had to make some adjustments as a result of that, and those adjustments will continue until this class graduates,” Senior Associate Dean of Campus Life and Director of Housing and Operations Frank Bedoya said.
Like CMC, Pomona needed to convert spaces typically used as lounges in Blaisdell and Smiley residence halls into rooms. These lounges were “equipped to be rooms and served as lounges, but we are actually using them this year as rooms,” said Bedoya. Pomona also converted doubles previously used as quads in Oldenborg Residence Hall back to quads.
Despite these circumstances, Bedoya stressed that Pomona’s on-campus housing is not full and that the school could, theoretically, house more students.
“When the semester started, I had open beds. I still have open beds now. I have fewer totally empty rooms,” Bedoya said. “We were not impacted at all by housing numbers or by the incoming class.”
Bedoya also emphasized that Pomona has not had to rent space for students off campus since the 2010-2011 school year before Sontag Hall and Dialynas Hall were completed. In the 2010-2011 year, Pomona rented space at the College Park complex.
Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, and Scripps College were able to accommodate all students in college-owned housing this year, although some Scripps students are, by choice, living in off-campus apartments owned by Scripps, according to Associate Director of Media and Public Relations Karen Bergh.