Monday, May 25

Throwback Thursday, Week 9: A steep climb for housing

The Hill was praised in a 1999 Daily Bruin feature. (Daily Bruin archives)

Six weeks ago, I publicly complained about the trials of living in North Village when I threw it back to the conception of the Hill as we know it today. When Dykstra Hall debuted in 1959, UCLA reached the point of no return and committed to becoming a residential, rather than commuter, campus. Rieber, Sproul and Hedrick followed in the four short years afterward.

Despite the perks that have followed in the past 50 years – computer labs, an on-location convenience store and weekend breakfast at Rendezvous among others – some combination of student apathy and an absence of administrative transparency have created a disconnect between the money residents spend and the benefits they receive.

On-campus housing has only gotten better since the Bruin covered “Dorm Reforms” in 1999, which compiled a summary of changes to on-campus housing over the second half of the century that were emblematic of rapidly changing technological and social circumstances in college culture. However, today’s decision-making processes that bring students services like HBO GO and other luxury amenities are a mystery.


The article remarked on the Hill’s history, praising Sunset Village for bringing the Hill Top Shop, air conditioning and the long-forgotten Villager Arcade to campus. The Village also introduced the Student Technology Center, which foreshadowed the arrival of ethernet connection to every room on the Hill five years later.

Barbara Adams, a 1970 graduate who lived in Hershey and Sproul halls, weighed in on how student values had changed since she attended UCLA. For example, while she lived on campus, she lived in single-sex residential wings. By 1999, however, most residential halls were co-ed, except for a few all-girl floors in Hedrick Hall.

Entertainment options were also growing, replacing the already lackluster Westwood Village with rallies, film screenings and karaoke nights in Northwest Campus Auditorium. These type of events would slowly diffuse into smaller residential sub-groups, where the Office of Residential Life was experimenting with Program Assistants for each floor, whose duties were a simpler version of Program Coordinators in charge of entire buildings today.

These endless perks, however satisfying, cannot distract students from a current and impending stress on housing.

Last November, the University of California Board of Regents voted to enroll 10,000 additional undergraduate students systemwide by 2020, a significant increase from the 5,000 students over two years mandated in the May budget revise for the UC to receive a bonus $25 million.

In January, UC President Janet Napolitano announced a student housing plan to add 14,000 affordable beds across the UC, but since then, very little details have been made available.

More recently, UCLA Housing announced plans to take a hiatus from renovating buildings on the Hill, which will both ensure every bed is available to aid the transition. But despite the pause in constant construction on the Hill – the 24-hour Hedrick study space excluded – student fees will most likely increase as usual.

Last week’s Daily Bruin online poll asked about this very issue and found that 46 percent of respondents agreed that UCLA Housing cannot increase fees without creating and sharing a plan for accommodating forthcoming enrollment increase. The second most popular option, which stated increasing fees for UCLA Housing makes the university less accessible and should be mitigated, got 36 percent of the vote.

Next year, the campus is expected to accommodate an additional 750 undergraduate students. Yet as of last October, UCLA officials had no idea how they would accommodate said students, but said they were working on finding a remedy.

The only answers they’ve been able to provide have been vague short-term solutions. During a meeting with The Bruin Editorial Board, Chancellor Gene Block and Vice Chancellor Steve Olsen discussed how a recently-completed, 15-year period of growth and renovation on the Hill would help accommodate new students, despite a UCLA Housing waiting list of about 1,000 undergraduate students annually.

In the 1999 piece, Adams also weighed in on whether housing improvements adequately accommodated the larger undergraduate population, which had grown by about 5,000 since she was an undergraduate. Of double occupancy rooms housing three people, Adams said, “That’s like jail; they’re in prison.”

If that’s prison to her, she might not want to visit The Hill when UCLA turns 100 in 2019.

Catherine Liberty Feliciano was a news reporter and a staff representative on the Daily Bruin Editorial Board. She wrote stories about Westwood, research and student life. She dabbled in video journalism and frequently wrote #ThrowbackThursday blogs. Feliciano was an assistant Opinion editor in the 2015-2016 school year.

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