Thanks To UCSC, Your Professor Might Also Be Your House Mate

“You may wish to consider offering rental housing in your home for the academic year, or perhaps for a shorter period,” an official email to UCSC staff and faculty read.



Students coming to the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the fall might be in for a bit of surprise: a professor as a house mate.

Okay, a huge surprise — shock, even.

Due to a “housing crisis” on campus — and the city as a whole — the university has asked its faculty and staff for help in providing rental rooms to freshmen until a permanent solution can be figured out.

Dave Keller, the executive director of housing services on UCSC’s campus, sent in a rather peculiar e-mail in which he urged faculty and staff to assist with the accommodation of students coming to the university this fall, asking them to rent out spaces for the whole academic year if possible.

Keller wrote the out-going class, in the fall, would free up some space for the incoming students. However, the accommodation dilemma was “real” and “urgent.”

“As you no doubt know, there is a significant housing crisis in Santa Cruz, and I am writing to you today to see if you may be able to help us address it by offering a room for rent in your home to a UCSC student this fall. We currently have several hundred students without housing guarantees on the waiting list for housing, and not nearly enough rentals offered in our available Community Rentals listings to accommodate these students,” the e-mail read.

“You may wish to consider offering rental housing in your home for the academic year, or perhaps for a shorter period,” it continued.

USCS, in a statement to Buzzfeed News, blamed the scurried housing on the so-called “tech boom” in the nearby Silicon Valley, making it difficult to find affordable living spaces.

The statement also said while the school is trying to provide a better housing solution to students, having a professor as a landlord might be the only workable option for now.

“Santa Cruz — like much of California — continues to grapple with a severe housing shortage, which has led to fewer rooms being available for rent and what’s available is often quite expensive,” Scott Hernandez-Jason, the director of media relations for the university, said in a statement.

Hernandez-Jason said while they house 52 percent of their undergraduate students but only has 9,300 beds available in total, although, no comment was made on whether the situation worsened because of over-admission.

He also said while there is “project in works” for student housing, it is unclear when that would become accessible.

This year, there are not many off-campus options for students on a waiting list and the UCSC hopes faculty members and staff can help with the crisis.

However alarming the arrangement, it has apparently always been in place. “Community rentals office” helps build a bridge between the staff and students looking to rent a room.

A similar message was sent to staff in 2014.

Despite the current students and alumni blame completely different issues for the scarce housing.

"Over-enrollment has been a growing issue at universities, [and] there isn’t an easy way to deal with it because simply accepting less students denies so many people an opportunity for higher education," said Dana Padilla, who is entering her senior year at UCSC. "But we cannot continue to give these opportunities to students if it is at the cost of basic needs like housing."

Alum Maria-Nicole Ikonomou said blaming the Silicon Valley is just a step to diverge from the real problem.

"This Silicon-Valley-is-ruining-everything-black-and-white narrative is a distraction, not the issue," Ikonomou told BuzzFeed News. "Asking faculty and staff to house students is unacceptable because it’s indicative of underfunded public education, not because of potential for misconduct or conflict of interest."

"The UC system and their media spokesperson are taking an easy out here, rather than addressing the systemic issue that is making it even harder and more dangerous to be a public university student, especially for students of color, low-income and other marginalized communities," she added.

When asked of conflict of interest that may come with students and faculty members living together, Hernandez-Jason said, “Student conduct is covered by our student handbook and there are policies that cover faculty and staff conduct.”

While it may temporarily solve the housing issue, it’s hard to imagine any freshmen would warm up to the idea of waking up in the same house as their professor.

Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Pexels

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