Senate Bill 169, part of the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program passed by state legislature, designated $500 million for student housing, half of which goes to community colleges.
While Las Positas might not need to pay students to attend its school like the College of Alameda, it was hurt tremendously by the pandemic. Enrollment rates are down per a report presented by Rajinder Samra, LPC’s Director of Research. Prior to COVID-19, the school was seeing figures upwards to 10,000 students. On-campus housing would’ve likely been more necessary then. Now, however, the school’s current number of 6,826 students is significantly lower. Declining along with that figure should be the prioritization of on-campus housing. Other aspects of the school should take its place.
If you don’t exactly know where we’re going with this sentiment, let us bring you up to speed. Around late October, during which a voting member of Chabot and Las Positas Community College District attracted attention for anti-trans social media posts, Chancellor Ron Gerhard sent out a statement on diversity and inclusion that reads: “As an inclusive college environment, we welcome and support the diversity that is represented within our student body and within our broader community.”
While Las Positas can try to promote inclusivity through words via an email or raising a flag on campus, to help LGBTQ+ students, LPC needs to offer resources. Allocating funds to prove their commitment would speak volumes. There is always room for improvement, and it’s our belief that there are bigger issues than housing that demand such, beginning with LGBTQ students.
LPC’s LGBTQ+ Resources page lists a plethora of external resources for queer students, ranging from information centers to scholarship foundations. The problem, though, is that there isn’t one on-campus resource included. Here are some ideas: create an LGBTQ+ student support program or build a physical space for LGBTQ+ students to feel safe in. And no, the Queer-Straight Alliance club doesn’t count as it’s led primarily by students. Where is the administrative involvement?
In addition to helping marginalized students, the school could simply fund their programs better. Take the journalism program, for example.
The Express and Naked magazine staff largely contribute to the journalism and media studies program at LPC, furthering journalism on this campus. We receive funds from the bookstore through a co-curricular account to keep printing newspapers and magazines, and to maintain our websites. But year after year, our budget is cut down again and again.
We went from a weekly, to a biweekly to a monthly newspaper. Our team struggles to continue printing as inflation increases. Given the decline in newspaper readership, the price of printing newspapers isn’t what it used to be. Not many places provide printing services. The need is scarce. This leaves us lodged between a rock and a hard place.
We also struggle to see how a full-time student, living alone, could afford to pay tuition and rent working minimum wage. According to the Independent, this bill would make the maximum cost of rent around $1,249. If a student makes $15 an hour, works 20 hours a week as recommended for full-time students, they would make $900 a month before taxes.
They’d be unable to pay rent, much less other costs of living like utilities or food. As community college is the local option for students who can’t afford a four-year or to live on their own, it doesn’t make sense to implement on-campus housing. The small number of students who this would help cannot be promised the same cost of rent in five or six years when the buildings would go on the market, either.
This bill misunderstands the needs of community college students. It is a leap when we should be taking small steps. Foster the present, not the future.