Housing issue is improving, but still shoddy

It’s not uncommon for USC students to be pigeonholed by the campus housing properties they live in.

Daily Trojan | William Brown

In the inevitable name-age-major conversation that is the icebreaker at any forced social situation, the major is the first to fall victim to stereotype. Architecture? You must never see the light of day. Business? We’re not talking, we’re networking. Cinema? Go back to your fancy new building to write in your Moleskine.

Although a student’s major might be the first and easiest way to stereotype him, where he lives is just as easy to categorize.

New/North and Birnkrant house the social freshmen, Century and Cardinal, the sophomores unphased by a little bit of grime, and Tuscany, the young, upwardly mobile upperclassmen.

In the end, the only character trait a student’s housing situation reveals is luck — or lack thereof. With another housing lottery finished, a crop of aggrieved students inevitably emerges, with dashed hopes of living in Webb or Troy, or — for the later lottery numbers — anywhere near campus.

USC simply doesn’t have enough beds to accommodate its growing student body. For a university that has only made the shift from commuter to residential in the last decade, administrators are making great strides to  provide housing to more and more students. But the fact remains: Only freshmen and sophomores are guaranteed campus housing.

Though USC has begun to make provisions for the influx of students out on the curb, the university has to offer a housing alternative that caters to all points on the economic spectrum.

The University Gateway Apartments complex, USC’s long-awaited flagship of student housing, is an undeniably important step toward securing more housing options for students. Set to open next year, the towering building on the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street will provide 1,650 more beds.

Gateway’s developers, Urban Partners LLC, have gone to many lengths to present the complex as the next frontier in student housing, including elaborate feats of advertising featuring, among other things, miniature ponies on campus. But all the fanfare doesn’t detract from one of Gateway’s largest flaws — the price tag.

With a monthly rent in the neighborhood of roughly $1,064 per person in a double bedroom space, Gateway threatens to be Tuscany 2.0, an apartment complex that caters to a very specific student demographic. Those not able to shell out the cash necessary to secure a spot are left in a precarious position.

USC had the right idea in inviting more student housing close to campus, but now it will have to shoulder the hefty task of providing affordable rent as well. Students shouldn’t have to be forced to choose between soaring costs and living outside the wobbly boundaries of Campus Cruiser.

USC’s residential students contribute to a thriving and dynamic campus experience — one the university is sure to tout to potential students, along with the football team’s myriad accomplishments and Tommy Trojan’s physique. But if students are left with no other option than to commute, the campus dynamic is at risk.

So apart from all the bells and whistles (and ponies), the university still has a job to do. We can only hope administrators accept the responsibility of continuing to provide appropriate housing for its students.

Lucy Mueller is a junior majoring in cinema-television production.

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