A New Way to Live on Campus


Courtesy of Jeong Park of the “Orange County Register”

Amanda Peck

   Imagine: You are a college student in LA County. Your last class of the day has just ended and you head to the vending machine for a quick and easy dinner. As you pop open your soda and chips, you unlock your car that has been sitting in the campus parking lot all day and toss your backpack into your car and grab your shower caddy. The bathroom facilities that have been recently installed in the parking lot aren’t even that bad; they’re actually convenient. After you’ve washed up for the night you head back to your car, fold down the seats, and roll out your bed set-up. 

   For many students, this is not just a game of pretend– it is their life. Estimates state 16% of college students in Los Angeles have experienced homelessness in their college careers or are currently still in the unfortunate situation. In the past year, a new bill has been drafted by Assemblyman Marc Berman that addresses the student vagrancy issue. The bill is aimed to allow college students to live out of their car on campus parking lots that will be equipped with bathroom facilities. This bill mirrors a law passed in 2016 allowing homeless students to utilize athletic locker-room showers and facilities, no matter if they are in a sport or not.

   Although this destitution is a pressing issue creeping into colleges, the bill Berman is attempting to enter into legislation is not geared toward solving transient living situations of students but to provide assistance and support for those who need it.

   Former Warrior and current college student, Joji Maldonado expresses his empathy for the students involved in the circumstance at hand. “I can see that there are positive aspects of this bill as a student myself, but that’s just not humane. Can’t the colleges use funds to help give the students dorms?” Maldonado raises a very interesting question: “Just for example, the National Collegiate Athletic Association accumulates a huge profit but where does that money go? I think money like that should be taken into consideration.”

   A universal question that many students ask themselves sometime in their schooling is “What is the university doing with my money?”. Aside from the proposed bill and the law of the athletic shower rooms, not much is being done by the colleges themselves. This is worrisome for many incoming college freshman who may face similar challenges as those living in their cars.

   As many students at West High are preparing for the shift from high school to college life, what is happening to students among the UCs and Cal States is troubling those who are applying. Taylor Fjellstrom (12) ardently shares her thoughts on the topic: “They are literally telling their students to be homeless because education is greater than a home or decent shelter. I understand the importance of school, but what about a real home?” Fjellstrom indicates a riveting problem that colleges today are raising: Is education a higher priority than having a real place to live? Along with the timeless question, “Should the schools be responsible for their students’ living situations?”