Article - Office of College Advancement

Survey: Ohlone students do not need campus housing

By Web Bowers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008—Reprinted from Fremont Bulletin.

A number of Ohlone Community College students told school administrators through a survey last semester that student housing is not as important as the need for a student union or even a place on campus to hang out.

On June 11, school administrators presented the Ohlone Board of Trustees with results from a student housing survey.

Ron Travenick, Ohlone's associate vice president of student services, said the five-question survey was given out to more than 9,400 students at the close of the school's spring semester by the Associated Students of Ohlone College.

Questions on the survey asked students if they would use housing if provided. At the meeting, Travenick said 550 responses had been received, and suggested keeping the survey open until the start of summer.

At press time, 575 students had answered the survey, and 436 of them said they would not use student housing if provided by the college.

A second question asked students to rank the importance of housing offered on campus, and 285 students said not at all. Only 92 students said housing would be easier and more convenient for them, while 27 students said student housing would help them choose Ohlone over another school.

A third question asked students to rank a series of improvements currently under consideration at Ohlone, including a student union, a club meeting space and an expanded lounge space, along with housing.

Forty percent of students, or 212, who answered the survey said housing was not at all important, while 35.2 percent 183 stated a club meeting space was somewhat important.

Another 33.4 percent 176 students said a student union was somewhat important, and 31.7 percent 167 students said an expanded or improved lounge area was somewhat important.

Only 57 students said student housing was very important, while 135 students said an improved lounge area was very important. Additionally, 108 students said a student union was very important, while 78 said a club meeting space was very important.

The remaining two questions on the survey asked students to elaborate on their responses, and provide input on what would make Ohlone better.

Jackie McCulley, the ASOC president, said the survey results were not surprising to the student union.

"This wasn't really a big shock," she said. "We had a general consensus from the students, but this puts the facts behind it."

McCulley added students would like something such as a student union or a lounge to hang out at the top of the hill, away from areas where they need to keep quiet to not disturb classes.

While the results show there's no large need for student housing, Travenick said students still provided what they'd rather see on campus in their answers.

"About 150 students on some of these (questions) took time to give us comments on everything from parking to lighting," he said. "It gave us a lot of good information and I think we want to take the time, when the survey's closed, to really consider them."

Ohlone President Douglas Treadway said while surveys of this nature are generally given out at the start of a semester, the response was still good.

He added the board should remember less than 25 percent of the school's students are full time, and student housing is generally geared toward that demographic.

Trustee Bob Brunton said student housing at Ohlone was one of his major interests, and said he would still be interested in pursuing it.

"My thinking was not that current students would use housing," he said. "Student housing is for those who live outside the college area, not for those in the area and who can commute."

Trustee John Weed agreed with Brunton's notion to further explore the idea.

He said City of Fremont has recently approved nearly $300 million in Fremont Redevelopment Agency funds for housing, and the college should look into a discussion with the city.

"When we talk about student housing, we don't necessarily mean that it's somewhere on this campus," he said. "The core issue is to assist students in finding accommodations."

Ken Steadman, a student trustee, agreed as he reminded the board and administrators that Ohlone has nearly 10,000 students and that only 550 had answered the survey so far.

"I think 25 percent of 10,000 students would utilize housing if it was available," he said. "When this was first discussed last year, I don't think anyone was envisioning 2,000 units built, but this certainly shows that we could probably accommodate 500 units."

Trustees will revisit the issue at a future meeting, after the ASOC's student survey is completed.

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