South Village residents spoke of the positive and negative changes in housing this new academic year.
Housing and residence life are very different now than they were last year. Students are excited about the updates but also concerned about some adjustments they need to make.
The accommodation has implemented many changes such as waiving the non-resident guest policy, opening tower 1 to residents, opening the wellness area, extending hours of opening of the Village Café, and much more.
Last year, residents were unable to have non-resident guests in their rooms or buildings due to COVID. This semester, residents can receive non-resident guests during the day and at night.
Scarlett Juarez, a psychology major, talks about how no longer having this policy has had a positive impact on her and her family.
“I love the openness of the guest policy,” Juarez said. “My mum is disabled and she couldn’t see my room at all last year. Now she can come and see my room at any time and it feels good.
Another resident, Jaquelyn Robledo agrees with Juarez because that policy limited her ability to see family members last year. Robledo is a history student and some of her family members live far from Los Angeles.
“I was so sad last year about the guest policy that we had to follow,” Robledo said. “My brother couldn’t come to visit me and I didn’t see him as often as I wanted to.”
Many residents, like natural scientist Jasmine Winters, are excited about the opening this year of the South Village Wellness Zone, which includes a gym, meditation rooms and a spin room.
“I use the gym often now that it’s open,” Winters said. “It’s convenient for a quick workout and because it’s closer to me than the on-campus gym. I like the meditation rooms they have. It was quiet and the lights were dim.
The wellness area is for residents only and the hours are 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
“It gives busy students the opportunity to practice early in the morning and later at night,” Winters said.
Other students disagree on the convenience of gym hours.
“They are open in the morning and in the evening but they are closed between 11 am and 5 pm”, graphic communication Major Lea Lang said. “It’s a big gap during regular hours when the gym is closed, which doesn’t make sense to me.”
The university identified peak usage times and set gym hours based on peak usage, according to a statement from the university spokesperson to the University Times (UT).
“The Xtreme Fitness Center is located on campus in the basement of the University-Student Union and is open and available to students,” the spokesperson told UT.
Residents are also concerned about how housing is handling COVID-positive cases this semester.
Last school year, Tower 1 was used to isolate South Village residents who tested positive for COVID-19. Residents’ meals were also delivered to their doorsteps so they wouldn’t leave their rooms and come into contact with anyone.
Juarez thinks the isolation system last year was good, but this year she thinks the housing doesn’t have an adequate isolation plan.
“Residents who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate in their rooms even if they have roommates,” Juarez said. “I feel like there should be at least one floor in Tower 3 that is just for isolation, especially because Tower 3 is the only tower that has a few empty floors. People with COVID are also permitted to enter and eat in the dining hall.
“For meals, the resident who tests positive for COVID-19 should contact the catering manager and select a meal,” the University said. “The catering manager prepares the meal when the resident arrives at the front door.”
“If the roommate of someone with COVID expresses concern, we provide an alternate room during the isolation period,” the University added. “We have had no complaints this year regarding this issue.”
Dining room hours
The students are delighted with the extension of the canteen hours. They are now open two hours later, with a closing time of 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday while the Friday-Sunday hours have not changed.
Robledo likes this change because, like many other students, she has evening classes until 8:45 p.m. Being able to eat after class suits him.
paint on the walls
Another concern shared by students is that the paint used on the walls in South Village peels off easily and students are charged for it.
Robledo thinks it’s not fair for housing to charge students for damages caused by simply decorating the walls. She believes that anything put on the walls is going to rip the paint off, so the only way not to get blamed is to have nothing on the walls at all.
“I have to hang things on my wall because it’s really sad to have empty walls,” she said. “But now I have to think about what to put in place so that I am charged as little as possible.”
“How do they decide how much to charge and who is going to be charged?” Juarez said. “What are their real expectations for the walls?”
Large 3M Command utility hooks, Scotch interior double-sided mounting brackets, and Scotch removable wall mounting tabs are what the university recommends for dorm walls, according to a statement at UT.
“These adhesives are recommended for most wall fixtures under five pounds,” the university spokesperson said. “We’ve tested these adhesives and they don’t peel our paint or drywall.”
Another change that the accommodation has implemented is to get rid of disposable boxes to take away from the Village Café. Instead, each student gets just one plastic box to take to the Village Café that costs $5. They cannot get a second box until their box has been returned. Once they return the box, they receive a clean new one.
Yasmine Pinzon thinks this is a positive change because it reduces waste and is good for the environment.
Lang and Winters agree with Pinzon and they think this change is good because trash cans are no longer overloaded with disposable boxes. Instead, students keep their plastic box or return it to the restaurant.
Housing and Residence Life also hosted many welcome events for new and returning residents during the first weeks of move-in and the start of the fall semester. Some examples of events are Trivia Night, Polaroid Palooza, Grocery Bingo, Zebra Party, Movie Night, Glow With The Flow, and a BBQ Carnival.
Child Development Specialist Mia Matos has attended several of these Welcome to Housing events. She enjoyed Grocery Bingo and loved that residents had the chance to win household items and groceries.
“The activities were more fun and more people participated this year,” Matos said. “There was something almost every day since we moved in. I liked the sweepstakes and how the questions for Trivia Night were based on movies.”
Pinzon thinks that The barbecue carnival was fun because there was a variety of great food and fun games, and Housing gave out Cal State LA shirts.
“It was a great way to see everyone and start a new semester,” Robledo said.
Disclosure: The writer is a resident and RA for Cal State LA housing.