In October 2015, the Santa Clara University Housing Department sent out an email to students living in houses a block off campus on Bellomy and Lafayette Streets. This email shared some “exciting” news that the house they were living in had been bought by the school, and for the 2016-2017 school year it is going to be run by SCU Housing as a part of their new Neighborhood Units.
Most of the students living in these houses are juniors who, at the time, were studying abroad. The email came out of left field, undeniably shocking them. Everyone tried to gather as much information as they could, which was difficult to do from halfway around the world. “I had no idea this was coming, it completely changes my plans for next year,” said Alaina Lester, a junior studying abroad in Prague.
After receiving the email Lester heard only little bits of information from the university about the upcoming process. It wasn’t until the beginning of December, that she was told she needed to sign the housing contract attached in the email and turn it in to the housing officer no later than Monday November 30th.
Lester and all seven other members of her house decided to resign the contract, committing to live in their house again next year, even though they didn’t really know all the regulations and changes that were coming their way.
Marley Miller, another junior living on Bellomy Street, lives in a house of four, and only one girl in her house decided to stay. The rest are moving to various houses that are not being run by the university. Miller is one of the three people leaving her current house after this school year ends and moving to a non Santa Clara University run house.
After seeing all these different reactions, it introduced the idea of why Santa Clara would choose to do this now, and according to Lester the answer to that is ‘the party houses’. “Party houses are those houses off campus where people get transported for alcohol poisoning, neighbors complain about noise, and parties get shut down by the police. There are certain houses that are known for constantly getting in trouble and have fines adding up,” said Lester “In my opinion this is one of the main draws from Santa Clara University, and these are the main houses that are a part of the Neighborhood Units”.
After hearing some of Lester’s ideas, she began explaining how her house has been moving forward in accordance with the university. Lester hadn’t received too much information about what was to come next with her house and was getting a little concerned, but she really didn’t have an option of backing out because she had no other housing option. At the end of March Lester and the rest of her housemates got an email from SCU Housing titled “Housing Cancellation” basically saying that no one from their house had attended in person room selection in the housing office or sent a representative so they were going to cancel their housing because it looked like we weren’t interested.
Her whole house went into frenzy, freaking out and wondering how they never got any notice or information about this. They emailed back right away and sent someone into the office, and it did get worked out. This lead to two more emails, one with notices about contractors and another about an off campus Neighborhood Units meeting.
The first email told the current tenants that the university is sending out contractors to each of the Neighborhood Units. This email was sent with very little time for the tenants to respond or ask questions. All they knew is that they would need access to every room in the house. And sure enough the contractors came in an inspected their house. The contractors ended up coming on multiple occasions and the tenants had very little information regarding each of their visits.
At this point Lester and her house had more questions than answers. Finally in late February SCU Housing sent an email out that notified all the future tenants of the Neighborhood Units they are required to attend one of two informational sessions. The girls of Lester’s house decided to go to the first.
First of all, Lester said they university really stressed that there would be minimal intervention from them, unless it became absolutely necessary such as the cops being called on a party and then campus safety would come to the scene. Lester explained some of the other changes and overall they seem fairly minimal such as the only way to get into your house and room is with your access card, you can’t bring in your own lofted bed, and the move in date is September 1st, so no one can live in during the summer due to renovations. Overall these regulations don’t seem awful but some definitely came as a surprise to Lester’s house.
After hearing all about the changes taking place in the units for the next school year, Miller is relieved to not have to deal with it. Miller stated “The Neighborhood Units are so new to Santa Clara’s off campus living situation. It is a smart move from the school, however there has been some backlash. I am interested to see how this will go next year.”
Photos via Brooke Wiley