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Westmont Residential Experience Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Westmont wait to announce the new four-year residential experience?

The Westmont Board of Trustees just authorized construction of the $30 million residence hall and Leadership Center because the college finally raised enough money to begin work on the facility and received the necessary permits. While we have long aspired to strengthen our connective residential community by housing nearly all students on campus, we only recently acquired the resources and approval to implement the change.

Why aren’t current students exempt from the new four-year residency policy?

Due to the unique challenges of construction in Montecito, the college only recently received approval from local agencies for the new residence hall and the funding to build it. Delaying construction by a year or two will increase the cost by at least $2 million and push back the schedule established in our Conditional Use Permit for building other new facilities in the Campus Master Plan. The benefits of living in the new hall, especially developing and strengthening relationships with students from varied backgrounds and experiences, depend on filling the facility.

How will the new policy affect parking permits for students?

Westmont’s Conditional Use Permit restricts the number of parking places on campus to 907 and the number of trips on Cold Spring Road to 3,500 on schooldays (2,500 on other days). Santa Barbara County monitors our compliance. To manage these requirements and accommodate construction, the number of student parking permits has varied in recent years from 462 to 546. We expect to issue 500 parking permits in fall 2016 (up from 471 in fall 2015). In 2017, the number of permits should continue to fall in this range.

What transportation options exist for students without cars on campus?

Westmont will continue running its shuttles and the Dial-a-Ride service but understands the limitations of these options. This semester, the college has contracted with Zipcar to provide vehicles on campus students may rent. If this program proves successful and popular, we may increase the number of Zipcars. We will continue to look for ways to improve the shuttle and Dial-a-Ride programs and assist students without cars.

Isn’t it more expensive to live on campus? Won’t the new policy adversely affect students who already struggle to pay for college?

Living off campus may yield some cost-savings, depending on the arrangement. To compare accurately, include the costs associated with a 12-month lease instead of a nine-month one as well as furnishings, utilities, internet, cable and transportation. The college is considering ways to provide assistance to some students with unmet demonstrated financial need to ease the transition during the shift to the four-year residential experience.

Don’t most juniors and seniors live off campus?

No, most Westmont students live on campus because the college highly values the residential experience and encourages students to do so. The Conditional Use Permit also restricts the number of students living off campus.

Will the Ocean View apartments continue to house students?

Yes, students will still have the option of living in Ocean View.

Will first-year students live in the same room as upper-class students?

No. First-year students will have first-year roommates.

Will some students get stuck in undesirable halls for four years?

Returning students will continue to choose their residence hall and will now have the option to stay in the same hall for four years if they so desire. In recent years, Westmont has worked to renovate sections of residence halls each summer to improve these livings spaces, and that program will continue.

Doesn’t keeping students on campus prevent them from learning valuable life skills such as renting an apartment and cooking for themselves?

Students who live in the new residence hall will be able to cook their own meals in kitchens on each floor and wing of the building. There is also a bathroom attached to each two-person room, creating greater privacy. We believe students will learn more valuable skills by staying on campus, interacting with and learning from people who are different, taking leadership roles in a variety of activities, and mentoring younger students. Few will likely ever again live in a Christian community like Westmont, but they will reside in apartments and/or houses the rest of their lives.

For more information, please contact Stu Cleek at scleek@westmont.edu.