At the start of the 2018 - 2019 academic year, Sonoma State University made the guarantee that all freshman would have on-campus housing available to them.
The University announced the decision this past fall that the plan would be put into action as they felt “ Guaranteed housing for first-time freshmen provides peace-of-mind to students and families while they explore their university”
The university feels that providing campus housing to first-time freshmen is critical to the student’s success from day one to when they graduate. The plan was also spurred into action by the 2017 wildfires that struck Sonoma County, which destroyed more than 5,000 houses in the area.
With Sonoma State’s plan, the housing initiative will help alleviate concerns of incoming students to find housing in such a competitive rental market, and while there is no denying the benefits of guaranteed housing for the freshman, there are still some possible issues that could arise for the university in the near future in terms of overall living spaces for students.
With freshmen now taking up a majority of dorms, it will leave some sophomores and Juniors who rely upon on-campus housing in an odd situation, based purely off of there being less living spaces and options for older Sonoma State students.
Ryan Winer, a sophomore at Sonoma State, said, “While I think the new policy for freshmen is one that is beneficial, I also think it kind of forces some non-freshmen who want to live on campus off [of campus].”
Some upperclassmen even expressed a desire to stay on campus, like Jimmy Torosian. “The dorms at Sonoma State are just great, I almost would say it’s better than any place you can live off campus based purely off quality.”
It is not just students like Torosian who think like this either, as the dorms have been listed in the “National Top 20 Best College Dorms” list by the Princeton Review, making it clear why so many students decide to stay in the dorms for two or three years.
This concern has become more prevalent for students due to a limited amount of off-campus living options in the greater Cotati and Rohnert Park areas, as these respective areas have become limited due to there being such a competitive housing market.
For some students at Sonoma State, finding a place to live off campus is one of the biggest challenges facing them in the coming years.
“Many properties and homeowners simply don’t want to rent in the current housing market were in right now,” said Wyatt Lewis, a junior at Sonoma State. “And many of them don’t want to rent out to college students as well.”
And truly this is simply a reality that many Sonoma State Students face, as ever since the 2017 wildfires the number of renters in Rohnert Park has dropped, with many people deeming their house more valuable to sell rather than rent.
Trulia.com, a home and neighborhood site for renters and buyers, has seen a decline of over six percent in the number of rentals available in Rohnert Park in the last six months alone, further indicating a tough housing market.
This past year, Sonoma State admitted one of its largest freshmen classes in recent history, as well as admitting over 2,300 new transferring students to campus as well.
When reached for comment, the Housing Department at Sonoma State said, “As of right now, we don’t have any plans to build any more on-campus housing.”
Sonoma State may not have an issue with housing right now, but it may be time for the university to look into expanding the housing on campus for all students.