Could on-campus housing fit Madison College?

Hannah Dotzler, Contributor

Madison College leads the way for schools around the state in many aspects. For example, it has the largest rooftop solar installation in Wisconsin, a new textbook rental program which helps students save quite a bit of money, and a plethora of other advancements.

But how does the school rate when it comes to providing affordable housing options to its students? The college does not offer any on-campus housing. Jonathan Jones, President of Madison College’s Student Senate, said “currently, the college does not have any programs that it hosts directly to assist students with housing insecurity.”

But is there even a need for on-campus housing at Madison College?

“It is hard at this time to quantify exactly how many students are currently experiencing housing insecurities or concerns,” Jones said.

 However, he mentioned that a survey taken last year by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice showed that about 70% of two-year college students experience food insecurities, housing insecurities or homelessness. That number was almost 10% more than students attending four-year colleges, which typically offer on-campus housing.

Even though it’s difficult to know the exact number of students at Madison College experiencing housing insecurities, Jones says, “I believe that there is a significant enough of an issue regarding stable housing conditions that we would see a positive effect in student success with the creation of housing resources or student housing.”

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has seen a variety of advantages because of its on-campus housing options. Brian Ward, director of residential operations at UW–Madison’s Division of Housing, says students who live on campus, not just at UW–Madison but all over the country, have better GPAs and are overall more successful in school. Ward speaks very highly of on-campus housing and the effect it has on students.

“It certainly offers them a new opportunity to engage with people who are different from them, and share some of the challenges of community living, and learn from the variety of people who might be on their floor or their wing; who could be from different parts of the country or from all over the world,” Ward says. “There’s a lot of benefits.”

Although there are plenty of benefits to having on-campus housing, there are also some disadvantages. Ward says it is expensive to run, and that some students are more likely to use alcohol and drugs while living together. However, Ward believes that the benefits of on-campus housing far outweigh the negatives.

“Overall, it’s been shown that, that step of a student living on campus can be a big step in their development outside of the classroom, as they’re also learning and growing inside the classroom,” he says.

Ward shared that he knows of quite a few two-year colleges that offer on-campus housing options. He said he thinks for Madison College, “It’s possible, if the demand is there and it’s needed as a service to students.”

However, Ward says that to know for certain whether or not Madison College should build on-campus housing, the school would need to figure out if there’s enough demand for it, and that they have the finances for it.

Would the cost of adding on-campus housing be worth it?

Jones said, “Being a commuter school allows the cost of attendance to a school to remain lower than that of one with live-in amenities. With the addition of building maintenance, insurance costs, security considerations, and staffing, adding housing to a college increases the overall cost for the student to attend, taking away some of the affordability – a part of what makes attending a two-year college enticing.”

Even though Madison College does not offer any on-campus housing options, other resources for students with housing insecurities are in the works. Jones says that this year, the college has created a Housing Resource Committee, which is “putting together the Student Housing Resource Guide, which will be the centralized location for local, state, and federal resources for students to take advantage of.” 

There will be an area on the Student Senate’s website for it in the near future. But for now, Jones says the best thing for students with housing insecurities or concerns to do is reach out to the Student Senate.

After contacting them, Jones says “the Senate will still work with you to help you find resources you need to help alleviate your housing problems.”