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Thu Jan 7, 2021, 08:08 AM

College dorms are becoming financial albatrosses

IVY-COVERED DORMITORIES nestled around grassy quads have long been the classic image of college life, especially in Massachusetts. Perhaps not for much longer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, dormitories are costing colleges a lot of money Ė money they donít have as they struggle to adapt to expensive new technologies and declining student fees. As colleges begin to recover and plan for a post-COVID world, they should examine the role of dorms with a critical eye.

As traditional colleges face a world of competition from dormless for-profit schools, they find their residence halls are money pits. Most are old and require a great deal of maintenance. New ones must be financed, adding to the already heavy debt load of colleges. They sit vacant during the pandemic, and students are getting used to online learning. Could dorms stay empty or only partially occupied?

The classic campus image was never really true beyond the most elite schools. American students are predominately commuters. Today, less than 16 percent of all undergraduate students live in dorms, a number that drops to below 5 percent for community college students. And even at elite schools less than half of first year students live in dorms.

Fixed costs, to which dorms contribute, are a lode stone around the necks of traditional colleges. They represent yesterdayís decisions that must be paid for today and tomorrow. As college presidents survey their campuses, studded with dorms, they count the cost of all the repairs they canít afford to make. Case in point: the UMass system has deferred $3.6 billion in maintenance needed on dorms and academic buildings.

Read more: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/opinion/college-dorms-are-becoming-financial-albatrosses/

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Reply College dorms are becoming financial albatrosses (Original post)
TexasTowelie Jan 2021 OP
The Genealogist Jan 2021 #1
sinkingfeeling Jan 2021 #3
mdelaguna Jan 2021 #2
Curbside Jan 2021 #4

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Thu Jan 7, 2021, 08:29 AM

1. I see the changes in on-campus housing happening in my own town, which is a college town to be sure.

We have several institutions of higher learning in town, one of which is the second largest in the state. Concerning that college, in the past 5 years or so, multiple square blocks of charming older homes have been demolished to make way for cheap, privately owned apartment villages. I don't know how the university will continue to justify their dorms, many of which are quite antiquated. Part of one is well over 70 years old now, and not a pleasant living experience.

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Response to The Genealogist (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 7, 2021, 09:14 AM

3. Same where I lived. Surrounding communities bulldozed for

ugly 5-story student apartment complexes. There were 9 when I left and 2 more under construction. One of the major reasons I left after 30 years

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Thu Jan 7, 2021, 08:48 AM

2. States have been choking public universities financially for years

Even in blue states like NY, no return of financial support taken away during the 2008 crisis. Despite the services public higher ed performs for affordable education and work force opps for students of all backgrounds (including many 1st generation college students). Itís a shame they have to lean so hard on residential life income to make ends meet. And also all universities and colleges need to cut their admin budgets by half (which have inflated alarmingly in recent years) and hire more permanent faculty (grossly underpaid adjuncts have been used in their stead). And remember that the mission of higher Ed happens in the classroom.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Jan 22, 2021, 03:38 PM

4. I have mixed feelings about this

 

Some of those private college dorm rooms are smaller than is legally allowed for human habitation and I know for a cold blooded fact that cells in federal detention are larger. Then they had these weird traditions prohibiting residents of that dorm from associating with Jews or Blacks or Gay people or whatever. Disobey and you are expelled from the dorm AND THE COLLEGE!

We all moved out as soon as possible but the college town had very high rents in the surrounding houses which almost all seemed to be owned by one tycoon.

I left that town in a hurry because I asked the manager of the rentals to please have the toilet fixed because it was leaking water with every flush and we could not tell whether it was clean or contaminated. We were also worried about the rotting of the floorboards. She told me nothing doing so I replied that I would just have to do what I had to do. So the girls upstairs got mad when I got service a few hours later and they asked my roomies how come. Then they and everyone they knew also called the local health inspector.

The floor guy took a knee and thanked me because it was a snowless winter and he had been worried about food but now he had more overtime than he could handle, as did every other workman within a twenty mile radius. When he told me the saintly nickname the construction people had given me, I made immediate plans to move to another state. I left that town better than I found it though and I apparently created a lot of employment because they then outsourced all the maintenance.

I think that the whole college scene just got to be too expensive for anyone who has to actually work for a living, and now the party is over.

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