Pomona moves juniors and seniors off campus to make room for new classes

Four blue wire chairs stand in front of a tall, grey apartment building.
Pomona juniors and seniors who selected rooms on south campus in June will live this fall in Oasis KGI Commons instead, making room for first-years and sophomores who have yet to live on campus. (Zoe Cowan • The Student Life)

Alan Ke PO ’23 was starting to get nervous the Tuesday night before his room draw time.

“I thought that I would be okay getting a single,” he said. “But then, last minute, it turned out that they had all ran out, so I was scrambling to find someone to room with. Because neither of us wanted to live in Oasis.”

At the last minute, Ke found another student in the same situation. They managed to snag a double in the Mudd Hall basement — far from the north campus single Ke had wanted, but tolerable all the same.

“We thought we were fine,” he said. “Obviously, that all changed.”

On July 19, Pomona College administrators told Ke, his roommate, and several other juniors and seniors who had selected rooms on south campus that they were being relocated to Oasis KGI Commons, a student housing complex owned by Keck Graduate Institute south of the Packing House in Claremont Village.

In an email, students were told they’re being moved because first- and second-year students — none of whom have ever lived on campus — cannot live at Oasis, and Pomona will “need all available beds for them on south campus.” Oasis will only house juniors and seniors.

“There is not a housing shortage, but we need to ensure that our first-years and sophomores who are coming to campus for the first time are housed appropriately,” the email said. 

The college leased Oasis apartments earlier on in anticipation of “the largest on-campus residential population in history.” Pomona estimates it will have more than 1,700 students living on campus in the fall, marking the largest number living on campus in history, Pomona spokesperson Patricia Vest told TSL via email.

“The number of students is higher for several reasons: We have a large first-year class, there will be close to 50 students from the Class of 2021 finishing up their last semester, and there will be less students than usual going to study abroad,” Vest said. She did not respond to TSL’s question about how many students will be living at Oasis. 

Facing a larger-than-usual demand for campus housing, other 5Cs have also placed students — willingly or not — in other nearby apartment complexes. In June, Pitzer College said that about 150 students were expected to live in Claremont Collegiate Apartments, which are northeast of the 5Cs across Foothill Boulevard. “Almost all of the other bed spaces” at CCA will be occupied by Scripps College students, Pitzer’s message said.

Claremont McKenna College Director of Residence Life Jenny Guyett told students in a June email that the school leased space for 128 students at the Alexan Kendry apartments, south of the colleges in nearby Montclair. Harvey Mudd College is making room for students in the Arrow Vista apartment complex east of College Park.

All students who had selected a double-occupancy room on campus will be assigned a two bedroom-two bathroom suite at Oasis. Those who were in a friendship suite will be placed in close proximity to each other “whenever possible.” Since there are no single-occupancy rooms currently available at Oasis, those who selected a single-occupancy room on campus will be paired with another student of their choice at Oasis.

Students living at Oasis will be charged the same price for housing as students living on campus since Pomona considers Oasis on-campus housing, according to Vest. They will receive the same amenities as students living on-campus, as well as amenities in the apartment building. They will receive transportation to and from campus, weekly cleaning, network access and parking that is available adjacent to the building. 

Pomona anticipates that more than 100 students will travel abroad if study abroad programs open up in the spring, thereby shifting several students from Oasis back to campus. Students at Oasis will have the first opportunity to select housing on campus for the spring 2022 semester. 

Last year, TSL reported on the financial crunch Oasis was experiencing due to low occupancy and revenue shortfalls. 

For students like Ke, scheduling may be one of the biggest challenges. Early morning language classes, for example, seem less feasible when Mason Hall isn’t just a short walk away. 

But he’s optimistic about the amenities — and a surprise upside to the situation.

“There’s a silver lining to being moved to Oasis, I feel,” Ke said. “I wanted a single, and now I’m getting one. And that’s big for me, because I get my own space, and I don’t have to necessarily share it with someone else.”

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