WU needs to build off-campus housing

David Holloway | Op-Ed Submission

So, after the latest attack on a (grad) student at our prestigious university, I have to wonder when—or if—something (anything!) is going to be done about the living conditions off campus. I find it highly ironic that while the University is busy turning the South 40 into Candy Land, students are getting mugged, beaten and robbed in and around their shady off-campus apartments. While I understand that the new South 40 is primarily intended to impress the money right out of Daddy’s wallet and into the chancellor’s lap, what I don’t understand is how the University can stand behind its off-campus housing situation.

And it IS a situation. What happened to that grad student last month is not unusual. How many of your friends have been held up at gunpoint, stripped of their wallets, phones and wedding rings? But at least they have their education. The University needs to build off-campus housing for students who don’t/can’t live on campus. A great many universities (even STATE universities, Dr. Wrighton) have complexes and housing for grad students and upperclass undergraduates. So why don’t we? The one at Stanford is the size of a small city and even has its own bar.

Grad students, who make very little as it is, essentially have two options: Sign on with Quadrangle (and please, don’t sign on with Quadrangle!), or bag a Special Someone who has a real job and who has the monetary capital to make everything better. Undergraduates who choose to live off campus may have no options…That’s why the University needs to devote some of its cranes and hardhats and executive meetings to off-campus housing. Although the University may install more security cameras, offer more counseling, and get more carts to drive around the block, this problem will not go away. It’s time for plan B, which should have been plan A.

  • http://twitter.com/gregorzkurwa Gregorz Kurwa

    I mean guns. I already carry pepper spray. I’m not particularly comfortable with it though, as it’s a much less effective/intimidating deterrent and far slower to deploy.

    I am licensed to carry a firearm in Missouri, but I don’t carry on campus, meaning I can’t carry to or from campus either.

    Pepper spray is, of course, better than nothing, but it’s a lot less effective than a firearm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593555791 Jerome Bauer

    Gregorz Kurwa: do you mean pepper spray, or guns?

    Dah Dah: from the other comment string, to “Letter to the Editor: Improve off-campus security,” almost identical to this op-ed, http://www.studlife.com/forum/2009/12/23/letter-to-the-editor-improve-off-campus-security/

    I did not read David’s letter as a call to bulldoze our historic neighborhood and turn it into Grad Candyland. If any such plan is in the works it will have my vigorous opposition.

    Undergraduates should not live in a bubble, though their parents may disagree. Many first year, and some second year, grad students need to live in a bubble, to get the work done. One size does not fit all.

    Perhaps one or two South 40 or Village dorms could be converted into grad housing, and the displaced undergraduates could trade places with grad students now living in Quadrangle Housing, as a temporary solution. That is, if enough grad students want to live in Candyland.

    Jerome Bauer
    Local homeowner and taxpayer, and WashU neighbor, dwelling in a modest historic home in a historic district…

  • http://twitter.com/gregorzkurwa Gregorz Kurwa

    I live off-campus, and I’d feel a lot safer if the University would let me carry effective tools for self-defense to and from campus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593555791 Jerome Bauer

    PS. A footnote to my post above: a grad dorm will of course have to include cooking facilities, e.g. kitchenettes in the rooms, mini-refrigerator rental, communal kitchen, or some combination. Of course, some grad students, especially the first year students, will prefer a meal plan on the South 40 or some more accessible place. This proposed grad dorm will to have all the security bells and whistles, including bar code readers and security phones. It will have to be accessible by public transportation and the University’s circulator system, and it should be accessible by bike path.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593555791 Jerome Bauer

    Since this letter appears twice in your online edition, I guess I will have to post my response to Dah Dah, who pointed this out, twice. Here it is:

    I agree with the letter while simultaneously criticizing it because we can have it both ways. A grad dormitory on North Campus would not be big enough to house all the grad students, and most would probably move out after a year or two, to find cheaper housing in the neighborhood, but only after having become comfortable with our neighborhood. This is especially important for international students, who may be suffering from culture shock. A grad dorm would also foster a sense of community among grad students, especially if it included meeting and social space.

    Such an arrangement worked well at UPenn. I stayed in one of two Grad Towers my first year, then moved out into the neighborhood with my computer-assigned roommate (a good choice, because we got along fine). We kept up with our old friends from Grad B. Had this housing option not been available, I probably would have gone to another school, one that did offer graduate housing, because moving into an unfamiliar city can be quite terrifying, even for an adventurous grad student.

    UCSB had no graduate housing, but it did have the University Students Rochdale Housing Cooperative, which served just as well, or better.