Caitlin Hodges was recently promoted to director of housing operations at Residence Life at California Lutheran University. Hodges was previously the senior coordinator for residence life and student conduct. In her new position, Hodges said she plans to improve the living situation on campus over the next few years.
“This summer our department took a look at what we have done, and what we can do better to try and improve the experience on campus. So my goals kind of tie into that, but so far we have not made any big policy changes,” Hodges said.
Hodges said she and her colleagues are very aware of the overcrowding in the standard residence halls. She said the impact is most felt by the first-year and sophomore communities on campus.
Hodges said the office recognizes it is currently housing more students on campus than residence halls were originally designed for, so staff are in the process of exploring different options.
“We are definitely impacted with housing on campus right now, no question about it. There’s a bunch of reasons for that… There’s a really great community on campus here that students want to be a part of,” Hodges said.
In terms of the different options that have been discussed by Residence Life, Hodges said there is a need for more living space.
“A potential solution to that [limited housing] would be building a new residence hall,” Hodges said.
No significant changes to the cost of living on campus have been made recently.
“We’re still in the process of basically proposing those numbers [housing costs]. We haven’t really heard from the cabinet one way or another,” Hodges said.
Hodges said how important it is for herself and her office to communicate and receive input from students.
“This department oversees all of the RA’s [resident assistants] on campus, so we have a really well oiled machine in terms of communication with the RA’s and those working in the office. We really tap into the students in terms of what we can do better on,” Hodges said.
Claire Meuter, a senior at Cal Lutheran, has been working as a resident assistant in Mount Clef hall for three years. Meuter said she has a positive outlook about the current living situation.
“I don’t know that there’s any one big issue on campus. What I’d love to see is residents staying on campus over weekends, and I’m always looking for more opportunities to build community on campus,” Meuter said.
Meuter is in communication with campus residents everyday, and she is not aware of any recurring complaints by students.
“As an RA, the most common complaints I hear have to do with roommate issues. In general they’re easy to resolve with some communication,” Meuter said.
Meuter is excited about what the future holds for the university.
“Over the past couple years, Cal Lu has seen an increase of people who are wanting to live on campus. This is an awesome sign, because it means we have a good campus community that people are wanting to stay at. Residence Life is doing it’s best to accommodate the need we’re seeing on campus so halls are full, but it’s for good reason,” Meuter said.
New this year is free laundry for students living in residence halls. However, some students believe the laundry situation could be further improved.
Joslyn Buckley, a junior at Cal Lutheran, lives in Trinity Hall and said there is not enough washing machines.
“The laundry. There’s only a few washers/dryers on each floor and you have to walk down there to see if any are opened,” Buckley said.
In addition to improving overcrowding, Hodges also wants to add more educational opportunities to the residence halls.
“At a larger scale we hope to integrate Academic Affairs and Student Affairs more intentionally moving forward, to potentially establish some more living/learning communities similar to the STEM hall on campus,” Hodges said.