Dorms possibly coming back

For the first time in almost 50 years, Del Mar College could see the return of student housing.

President Mark Escamilla discussed the possibility of dormitories with the Board of Regents at its Aug. 13 meeting. Regents unanimously agreed to form an exploratory committee to conduct further research on the topic. 

“What we’re doing here is breaking the ice on the conversations. It’s been a long time since Del Mar had housing. Since the very early days Del Mar evolved with housing in mind,” Escamilla told the board.  

In 1950, Del Mar converted a home into a dorm for five female music students. By 1958, the college owned 13 homes that were converted into housing. In 1963, dorms were built on campus. However, by 1972 the dorms were converted to classrooms because of the discontinuation of athletics and the need for classrooms.

Rito Silva, vice president of student affairs, presented preliminary documentation on the benefits student housing could bring to the college. In fall 2018, 2,201 students came from outside Nueces County, with 68 from Mexico, Silva said. 

Physical therapy student Taylor Martinez drives over 40 minutes to attend Del Mar.  

“I live in Woodsboro and would love dorms to be brought to campus. It would be extremely helpful,” Martinez said. “I would move into the dorms to reduce my driving time.”

Silva mentioned the music department as an example of a department that could benefit from dorms because the department recruits outside of the Del Mar College district for its program. 

“Housing will allow us to be more aggressive in recruiting students outside of our service area,” Silva said. “Having housing will also increase the collegiate experience for students.”  

In Texas, 29 out of 50 community colleges offer housing to their students, Silva said, with annual food and housing costs ranging from $3,850 at Hill College to $9,678 at Blinn College. 

The West, East and Southside campuses were offered as options for locations of housing. However, an exploratory committee would be needed to determine exact locations. The conversation by committee members mentioned adding to existing buildings or building new housing.  

“I have looked at the utilization reports at current buildings. There are footprints where buildings can be raised or removed from the site. We also have some off-campus locations we have looked at as well. Those are the next set of conversations we want to have and get back to you,” Escamilla told the board.  

The board said the exploratory committee’s report is expected to be ready by the end of the fall semester.

“We’re going to have students involved not just in the focus group, but sitting at the table. Students with us on the committees to really be what they are supposed to be, the drivers of those conversations,” Escamilla said.

Kimberly Rojas, a paralegal studies major, said having dorms on campus is a good idea to help students who come from out of the country or district. 

“With the rising cost of aparments, housing on campus could make living more affordable and accessable,” Rojas said. 

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