There are 50 to 60 less students occupying the new residence hall than there were when it opened in the fall of 2016, according to Stephanie Bilbrey, the Marketing & Summer Conference Coordinator at Central Oregon Community College.
The residence hall is operating at roughly half of its 330-student capacity. There are 40 rooms designed for a single occupant. The rest are shared rooms, which are cheaper. The cost of living in the dorms for one school year is a flat rate between $10,550 and $13,270, depending on the selected meal plan, the room type and the state that the student comes from.
According to Paul Wheeler, the Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life, there has been an ongoing problem involving students not understanding the terms of the housing agreement.
There are a myriad of reasons associated with students leaving the Residence Hall, especially financial difficulties, grades and family emergencies, according to Bilbrey.
Helping students understand the over $10,000 financial obligation will be a priority.
There will be a reevaluation of the application process, according to Wheeler who has overseen the transition from the previous Juniper Residence Hall to the current hall. This includes a budget worksheet which will allow students to provide input intended help weigh the large financial impact of staying the residence hall. Bilbrey and Wheeler hope that this process will help students learn more about their financial decisions.
“The fall application process, among other things, will involve a budget worksheet. The costs don’t always resonate in a student’s budget planning … we are prepared to walk students through the process,” Bilbrey said.
If a student experiences a problem with the residence hall, he or she can report it to a community advisor (CA). Students who apply and are selected to be CAs get free room and board in exchange for their services.
Lauren Lapping, student and CA became an advisor for two reasons: to save money and to be part of the community. Lapping said that she has experienced few problems has enjoyed her time as a CA. She considering reapplying for the 2016–17.
Like many colleges, COCC bans the use of alcohol or drugs on campus. Several students students who wish to remain anonymous said that this is big drawback to life at the residence hall.
“People have left because of the money and wanting to have more independence,” Lapping said.
Bilbrey and Wheeler hope the current rental market in Bend will draw people to the residence hall.
Living in the residence hall “is a great way for students to build a rental market history, making them more ready to endeavour into the Bend rental market … It’s a great stepping stone,” Bilbrey said.
To get the word out there and in turn increase the number of residents, COCC has employed a marketing strategy that includes ads on Facebook and Pandora, one geared toward students and one geared toward parents.
When the the hall opened it housed more than 200 students, 45.7 percent of which are from the state of Oregon.
These resident statistics are used by a marketing task force that meets weekly to discuss marketing for the residence hall.
According to Bilbrey, marketing to students and parents in Oregon, particularly in the valley, is a priority since those students have filled the most rooms.
An incentive program to encourage current residents to return is being considered. Some potential incentives are priority parking, the privilege to remove furniture from a room, and a priority choice of a room with a westward view of the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Bachelor.
“We thought the availability of rentals would work to our advantage …There is not enough word out there,” Wheeler said.
Jack Ewing | The Broadside