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In his memoir, graduate student Eric Snyder argues that the recent increase in housing prices goes against the very foundation of this educational institution.
UC San Diego has been able to use affordable housing on campus as a means of recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds, including students who are parents or guardians. Recently announced rent increases of up to 85% in graduate and family housing will prevent many students with dependents from attending UCSD and will significantly limit the range of talent and experience our faculty can have. recruit.
When my son was born, I was starting the final year of my undergraduate degree at the University of Utah. I found myself juggling parenting, classes, a senior project, an internship, and a part-time research job. Although stressful, I also found myself in a supportive environment with understanding teachers, close family members, affordable childcare options provided by the university, and a relatively low cost of living. I knew many of these support systems would be lost when I moved to a new state to start a PhD. program. Almost every program I envisioned had a higher cost of living than my hometown, and we wouldn’t have any extended family nearby. However, I knew I wanted to continue my studies. Getting a doctorate has been a long-standing dream of mine, and I hoped to pursue that dream despite the difficulties would set an example of resilience for my child.
Ideally, a possible doctorate. the student can choose a program solely on the basis of the reputation of the institution or advisor with which he most wishes to work. In my case, however, I also had to consider the quality of my family’s life – would we be able to pay for child care? Could my spouse find a job? Would we be able to afford an apartment? I began to study graduate programs and the resources that universities offered to students who were parents or guardians. At the time, UCSD offered a relatively affordable on-campus housing option for students with dependents. It meant, at the very least, that we could survive on my graduate student allowance. It allowed us to move to San Diego and find my partner’s job and find babysitting once here.
This, however, will no longer be an option for incoming students. The two bedroom apartment that I am renting will cost prospective students $ 1,998 per month which, although one of the cheapest two bedroom options, would be 75% of my salary. I wouldn’t have been able to come to UCSD if it was the cost of rent when I was accepted.
My situation is not unique, nor the most precarious. A recent survey of students with dependents at UCSD showed that, of the 167 survey respondents, 72 percent have a total household income of less than $ 50,000 per year, and 43 percent earn less than $ 25,000 per year. For these 43 percent of households, the cheapest family housing option available is the best 91 percent of their income. It’s also ignoring the 3% annual rent increase that UCSD will implement, and the fact that administrators intend to tear down the more affordable apartments and replace them with more expensive and less expensive options. suitable for families.
These apartments also accommodate undergraduate students with dependents. In the survey, 64 percent of undergraduate students with dependents reported having a total household income between $ 0 and $ 25,000 per year. Undergraduates with dependents already face additional challenges to their success, including greater financial constraints, less time, inflexible course demands, and cultural exclusion. A recent analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) found that despite having better grades on average than students without children, students with children experience higher attrition rates (52 percent of student parents leave university before graduation, compared with 29 percent of students without children). Preventing the success of student parents is a matter of fairness. The IWPR found that 70 percent of student parents are women, and 62 percent of these mothers are single mothers. Additionally, 51% of student parents are people of color, and two in five black women in college are mothers. Rather than seeking to improve conditions for student parents, UCSD added another obstacle to their success by making rent considerably less affordable.
Many students depend on federal and state aid, such as Medicaid and SNAP, to help them continue with their education. However, for the more than 100 international students with dependents, federal and state financial aid programs are rarely available. The use of these resources would risk being characterized as a “public charge” and being denied return to the United States.
Students who can no longer afford on-campus housing will now be relegated to living farther and farther from campus – increasing their commuting and decreasing the time they can devote to their research and study – which ultimately adds more money. obstacles to their success. Alternatively, and perhaps more likely, these students will simply choose to attend a different institution or give up on their dream of continuing their education.
Affordable housing on campus is crucial to UCSD’s ability to recruit a diverse and competitive student body. Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and CFO Pierre Ouillet must act to correct these mistakes, and failure to do so will cause lasting damage to UCSD’s reputation as a diverse and competitive institution.
Photo by Eric Snyder for the UC San Diego Guardian.