Pacifica Suites hotel
UCSB is extending its agreements with some Goleta hotels to house students for the winter quarter. Ten hotels were used to house several hundred students during the fall quarter, including the Pacifica Suites seen here. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

Some of the UC Santa Barbara students housed in off-campus hotels for the fall quarter will be given the opportunity to move into on-campus housing for winter quarter, according to UCSB spokeswoman Andrea Estrada.

For students who are not offered on-campus housing and don’t find alternative living arrangements, the university will be extending hotel housing contracts into the winter quarter, which was announced for the first time at a Nov. 16 town hall meeting.

More than 360 UCSB students were originally housed in 10 hotels in the surrounding Goleta area as a result of UCSB’s unprecedented housing crisis, which left many students looking desperately for housing in Isla Vista and placing themselves on university housing waitlists. 

At the town hall meeting, university administrators announced that 60 hotel-housed students had moved into on-campus housing and 40 had moved into housing in the community, but UCSB was negotiating ongoing agreements with local hotels based on demand from the 280 remaining hotel-housed students. 

“We’re going to have these hotels, probably, really for the remainder of the year,” Mario Muñoz, associate director of University & Community Housing Services and Resident Placement & Assignment Services, said at the time.

The university pays hotels about $175 per person per night, and students pay about $26, according to Muñoz, who said negotiations with hotels are expected to be finalized by early next week.

“It wasn’t optimal housing, and we still don’t think it’s optimal housing. It’s something that we need during this current process. It’s not something we’d like to repeat,” Muñoz said, fielding questions from students about the living conditions of the hotels. 

The Daily Nexus reported multiple students describing the water in their hotel rooms as discolored and bad-tasting, and Isla Vista’s local Food Not Bombs chapter has been providing students in hotels with access to fresh food they might not otherwise receive. 

For the upcoming winter quarter, the university’s goal is to rehouse as many students as possible into on-campus housing.

“Since the enrollment for winter quarter is typically lower, we expect a large number of campus housing spaces to open up, which will be offered to students currently in the hotels,” Estrada said. “Staff members in Residential & Community Living and in the Community Housing Office continue to assist students living in hotels, offering campus housing and/or helping them find permanent housing in the community.”

As of last Friday, Estrada said the number of students living in hotels “is changing daily,” and the university cannot provide specific numbers on how many students have accepted on-campus housing contracts. 

Sarah Hamidi, a fifth-year anthropology major who lived at the Ramada Inn during the fall quarter, has been public about her disappointing experience living in a hotel. Now, she’s finally been offered on-campus housing. 

“I waited till the end of November, and I still hadn’t heard anything about a hotel extension or on-campus housing, and they told me to just stay tuned,” Hamidi said.

UCSB originally offered the hotel housing to students only for the fall quarter. Although the university publicly announced its intent to extend hotel housing contracts at the mid-November meeting, Hamidi said that wasn’t communicated to her until she received a Dec. 2 email from the university with an on-campus housing contract.

“I got an email about the housing contract, and they told me that this is going to be the only offer that they are going to make,” she said, noting that she still has not heard about the specific apartments in which she might be placed. 

Hamidi said she took the offer, considering it a vast improvement from her current living situation, where she has to purchase or have delivered all of her food and water, and she drives to campus every day. Although she’s grateful to have had housing for the last quarter, the process has left her disillusioned with the university. 

“Ultimately, after everything I’ve been through, and especially with the housing crisis, I’m really disappointed in the school, and I lost a lot of respect for the school,” Hamidi said.

She also called upon UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang to resign.

“I wish more adults would listen and understand what our struggles are and just be a little more empathetic,” she said.  

— Holly Rusch is a Noozhawk contributing writer and university news editor for the UCSB Daily Nexus.