Cal State Bakersfield open in 1970, the same year I enrolled at Chico State. After visiting several campuses, Chico won out. It had a well-established campus — rich with trees and a year-round stream with an active salmon run bisecting the campus. More importantly, student housing was plentiful, affordable and within walking distance of campus.
I did survey several schools and it was evident the community of Chico was proud of its “hometown” school. It was also fairly evident the Bakersfield community was not nearly enthusiastic with its new college, and today, this community resistance continues. Private student housing can be a constant flow of income to apartment owners, but this opportunity has been ignored in Bakersfield. The debate about new residency suited for students (at Stockdale and Coffee) has strong community resistance and the city has indicated its disapproval. No surprise.
Does it not seem odd, and counterproductive to CSUB growth and academic prestige, that land owned by Castle & Cooke, just a few steps from campus, has been undeveloped for decades and is earmarked to be commercial office buildings? Even back in 1970, it was very evident CSUB was “planted” far away from affordable housing with the intention of creating a commuter school. Available school housing near campus didn’t exist then and now some 50 years later, inherently the same story continues. This fact limits the appeal of CSUB to persons other than local high school graduates who attend CSUB and live at home.
Yes, CSUB remains a good opportunity for local students. But there is a price. What “greatness” is left to an across-the-board discouragement of students representing a broader, more divergent contingency of interests and experiences? Students from across the state and even internationally? Students who could consider attending CSUB if there was significantly more affordable housing?
Wade Eagleton, Bakersfield