SMC — Student housing may eventually be available at Santa Monica College.
Last month, school officials circulated a survey trying to gauge interest in student housing, targeting those currently enrolled.
Although the final report is not available yet, Vice President of Enrollment Development Teresita Rodriguez said that the school actually received a “very good” response, with about 10 percent of those targeted filling out the survey.
“We found that the respondents were representative of every demographic,” she said.
The way the survey worked was that when students logged into their online school accounts to register for classes or check the status of their transcripts, they were prompted to answer whether or not they would be interested in student housing. They were asked about their interests in, specifically, traditional student housing, about their current living situation, and how important certain factors were such as the cost and the size of the room.
“The college is starting to think about offering some sort of housing project in the future,” said SMC Public Information Officer Bruce Smith, who emphasized that the effort is still in the embryonic stage. If approved, construction would not commence for several years.
The project or the possibility of one is in such an early stage that it is difficult to weigh out the benefits and costs just yet, as well as where the housing would be located, school officials said.
“Most recently [the idea] came up at a board of trustees meeting,” Smith said. This is the first time the proposal rolled out officially. The survey was taken to get a sense of whether the students are in favor of the idea.
“This was not a survey to try to get at everything we need to know if we were to choose to implement some form of student housing,” Rodriguez said.
Both Rodriguez and Smith continuously emphasized that at this point all that is being done is an assessment of the students’ interests, “to make sure that we’re actually meeting student needs,” Rodriguez said.
“I think it’s a conversation many urban colleges are having,” Rodriguez said. “Housing is difficult to come by, and very costly.”
SMC has been tossing around the idea for a couple of years, and now it is just being taken into consideration more seriously, Rodriguez said.
One of the major users, Rodriguez thinks, will be students traveling long distances, whether it is from another country or another state, or even just a distant city in California. Both the students and the parents want a sense of safety and affiliation with the institute, said Rodriguez.
“SMC has a pretty large international student population,” said Smith. “They contribute a lot financially and culturally to the campus. We are always looking at ways to make their stay at SMC as comfortable and easy as possible.”
Rebecka Wiklund, an international student at SMC, said that she had not been surveyed about the possible project, but she thinks student housing is a good idea. She explained that, even though she is currently already situated, she has many friends who have not been as lucky.
“It’s such pressure on them. That would be such a good thing to do,” she said. She described the experiences of her friends in their first couple of weeks at SMC as confusing and panicked.
As for the monetary concerns, she explained that she notices many foreign students driving up to the school in Porsche’s everyday, and said simply that, “their parents would pay for it.”
Monserret Fargus, also a student at SMC, didn’t seem as confident.
“I guess we all have to consider if they can pay for it,” she said. “In theory, it’s a good idea. I know a lot of people who desperately look for somewhere to live.”
SMC student Mario Rovira seemed more hesitant to show support for the idea as he was concerned about the cost and whether or not it would take away from other programs.
“That’s tough — I would really be on the fence when it comes to that,” he said.