Improving disparate living conditions must be top priority

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In recognition of a generous gift from the Berkus family, President Veitch announced in a school-wide email the renaming of Rangeview Hall, celebrating it as “the most desirable and sought-after residence hall among Oxy students.” Indeed, many students envy the small portion of their peers who are able to enjoy Rangeview’s air-conditioning and personal bathrooms (and tubs).

What truly makes this dorm so desirable, however, is the comparably unlivable conditions of other dorms, particularly for first-years. As a residential college that prides itself on its exceptional residential experience, Occidental cannot ignore the substantial portion of the student body who are unhappy every day with their living situation.

The state of the communal bathrooms in most of these halls is usually disgusting. Six out of 12 dorms do not have air-conditioning (counting Norris Hall which is only cooled in its common rooms) and prohibit personal units. When it is over 100 degrees and the first-years in any of the five sweltering dorms cannot sleep or study in their rooms, it affects the quality of their education.

Two-thirds of the class of 2017 currently live in triples. According to ResEd, the number of triples is not a result of over-enrollment of the class of 2017, but rather an increased number of upperclassmen choosing to live on campus. While this may seem to contradict the aforementioned complaints about the quality of residential life, the seniors who have chosen to live on campus have first pick during room draw and know they are not going to end up in one of Occidental’s many undesirable living spaces. The highly unequal conditions between dorms make room draw a terrifying process for the many students who do not have seniority or get high numbers. For the amount of tuition that Occidental students pay, and the comparably cheap rent of surrounding Eagle Rock, these compromised living conditions are unfair and unacceptable.

Firstly, ResEd needs to reconsider its stance on third-year students living off campus so that underclassmen do not suffer the consequences of poor administrative planning. Secondly, housing conditions need to be improved in the older dorms, particularly by installing air-conditioning. If the College does not have the funds to invest in this, it should demonstrate the need to alumni or other donors and consider the price of those students instead having multiple fans running in their rooms. It might not be as glamorous or newsworthy as Occidental’s other endeavors, but if administrators truly care about the happiness and well-being of their students, they must prioritize improving the housing services.

This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the Editorial Board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental community.

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