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West Valley Focus

NORTHRIDGE : Additional Uses Sought for Dorms

July 28, 1993|JILL LEOVY

Soccer fans, business people and community college students may rub shoulders with Cal State Northridge students next year as the university casts about for ways to make up a $3-million yearly shortage in student housing revenues.

For several years, CSUN's dormitories have had too many vacancies to make ends meet, said CSUN Vice President of Student Affairs Ron Kopita. So this year, university officials are turning to untraditional means to fill the rooms, and make more money--including renting out dorms for private conferences, office space and housing for CSUN's feeder community colleges, he said.

"We'd like to become the convention spot in the Valley," Kopita said.

Kopita said CSUN administrators are negotiating with community colleges to house their students, and transport them to and from CSUN dorms by shuttle. And he said the university could boost yearly housing revenues by $300,000 per year or more by booking large private groups, including soccer fans attending the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament in Los Angeles.

Officials are now negotiating with overseas tour groups seeking lodging for soccer fans and are considering listing the campus as an elder hostel, he added.

"The potential for this is unlimited," he said.

Occupancy rates at the school's roughly 3,000 housing slots have hovered around 60% for the last two years, down from about 90% several years ago. The problems started after CSUN completed a flurry of construction of new housing units in the late '80s, just before enrollment slumped and the economy turned sour.

In recent years, more students are deciding to live at home or off campus to save money, Kopita said. Next school year, CSUN is attempting to entice them back into student housing by offering cheaper options for renting apartments, such as sharing three to a unit, but a long-term solution to the problem may still be several years off, he said.

CSUN student housing is not funded through state taxes; student housing throughout the Cal State system is self-supporting. CSUN's deficits have so far been made up using funds from surpluses elsewhere in the system, Kopita said.

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