The Department of Student Housing recently announced its decision to close one of the three cooperative student homes on campus, citing financial problems as the motivating factor. Unfortunately, it appears as though Student Housing has done relatively little to prevent the closure.
The Davis Student Cooperative was the first on-campus co-op home and is the flagship residence of the tri co-ops. It is more than just housing to the dozen or so students who call it home; it’s a symbol of sustainability and environmental awareness, which are important themes at this university that should be encouraged and at the very least preserved.
It’s no secret that this is a difficult budget year across the board. It seems logical that Student Housing site budget problems as the reason for closing one of the co-ops. They claim declining residency pushed upkeep costs for the property above the income.
However, residents say there are just as many students living there as ever, and the problem is Student Housing’s new online record-keeping system. The fact that the rent for existing residents has not increased seems to bolster their argument. After all, the first logical way to increase revenue is to increase the rent, not to shut down revenue source altogether by closing the house.
Residents were given notice in October that the property would be shut down next August, and are rightly upset at the short notice and lack of options. Student Housing has not treated this issue with sensitivity. There are so few options for upperclassmen to live on campus – let alone live sustainably – that closing down a third of the co-op program should be a last resort.
To add insult to injury, Student Housing is considering using the property as space for its administrative staff. No one wants to believe that Student Housing would close down part of a community under financial pretense so it can use the space for offices.
We certainly hope this is not the case. It is Student Housing’s responsibility to effectively communicate each step of the way and ensure the public knows it is doing everything possible to preserve the co-op house.