Zelezny moves forward with new First-year Residency Requirement Program

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Zelezny moves forward with new First-year Residency Requirement Program

Sam Underwood, Editor-in-chief

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Story updated 9/11/2019
CSU Bakersfield is facing major changes to the campus with regards to student housing. Beginning next Fall, some first-year students from outside the city of Bakersfield will be required to live in the dorms.
In a Sep. 4 Runner podcast exclusive, President Lynnette Zelezny revealed her First Year Resident Requirement. The First Year Resident Requirement plan targets students from areas outside of Bakersfield, such as Delano and McFarland. The program would require incoming freshmen who live more than thirty miles from CSUB to live on campus for the first year.
“Where students are driving in and driving back, that is not providing them with the best possible collegiate experience so we will be moving forward for freshmen for mandatory housing in the residence halls,” said Zelezny.
A fact sheet being shared by the university to promote the new requirement says graduation rates are higher among first-year students who live in the dorms versus students who commute. Inquiries with the administration concerning the source of this data are still pending at this time.
Zelezny confirmed that the requirement would take into account a long list of exemptions, including family and cultural needs. “We know that in a rural place like Delano, we will have to go one student at a time.”
Zelezny also said the administration is working closely with the financial aid department to put together packages for students to cover the cost of housing. The fact sheet states that 51% of incoming students will have “exceptional financial need,” and that those students will have the “vast majority” of their fees covered.
Since CSUB’s first classes 50 years ago, it has been known as a commuter college. Nearly 80% of incoming freshmen come from Kern County. Bakersfield is surrounded by small rural communities, and many students commute daily. One such student is Hilario Carrasco. Carrasco is a senior and an engineering major who commutes to CSUB from McFarland. Carrasco wouldn’t have been able to live in the dorms his freshmen year because of his job.
“The 30-minute drive is annoying, but my work is in McFarland,” says Carrasco. “At home I have a kitchen, at the dorms you only get a microwave.”
According to Carrasco, the commute has inspired him to be more involved in campus life rather than less.
“I got into Greek life because of the drive from McFarland. I had long breaks between classes and didn’t want to drive back and forth for an hour, so I got involved with a fraternity to have something to do,” says Carrasco.
Nabdeep Hans is a freshman from Pixley who chooses to live on campus because of the commute. Hans’ dorm expenses are covered completely by financial aid. Hans stated that living on campus has been a great experience, and that he has met a lot of new people.
In response to the new residency program, Hans stated that, “It’s just another rule. If they want to commute then let them commute and find out the hard way.”
Tierra Latham is also a freshman living in the dorms. Latham moved to CSUB from Los Angeles.
“I moved to campus to have a better experience, get away from family, and have some space,” said Latham. “People who struggle financially would probably be better off living on campus.”
ASI President Aaron Wan stated that, “ASI believes that the freshmen initiative will increase retention as it has with other CSU campus’, evidence can be found online”
This story is continuing to develop and updates will be made as new information comes in. The full podcast interview with Zelezny is posted on the Runner website.