Whatcom offers homes away from home

By Sophia Crossley

To keep up with the increasing need for affordable living close to campus, Whatcom has subleased units within three different apartment complexes, Belleau Woods, Cascade Meadows, and The Village at Baker Creek, creating a total of 157 beds available.
Chelsea Smiley, who works in the Residence Life office, said the major selling point for Whatcom student housing is its affordability.
Smiley and Joseph Santos, resident advisors at the Belleau Woods complex, split some of the responsibilities while the search for a new Associate Director of Residence Life was ongoing.

Rebecca Butler is the new Director of Community Standards and Residence Life, a new position which encompasses the duties of the former position Associate Director of Residence Life.
The majority of students in Whatcom student housing are international students, but the option has been growing in popularity with student athletes, Smiley said. Most student residents are between the ages of 18 and 24, she added.
An Thai and Michael Tjondrorahardja, roommates in the Belleau Woods complex, are both international students who moved in on May 2.
“It’s close to the forest, so we have a quiet place and fresh air,” said Thai, 17, who is from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Neither Thai nor Tjondrorahardja, who is from Indonesia, drive so they usually walk or take the bus.Cascade Meadows is the closest complex to campus, less than half a mile and an 8-minute walk, according to Google Maps. Belleau Woods is 1.2 miles away, a 24-minute walk. The Village at Baker Creek is the furthest from campus at 1.5 miles and a 30-minute walk.
According to the student housing page on Whatcom’s website, The Village at Baker Creek offers a shared bedroom and shared bathroom for $500, an extra $75 for a private bedroom, and for $625, both a private bedroom and bathroom. A private studio goes for $750 and a private one bedroom apartment is $835.
Belleau Woods and Cascade Meadows offer the same prices, but do not offer studios or private one bedroom apartments.
Utilities are included in the rent and the units are already furnished.
Err Mathew Sana, who is from Las Vegas, lives with two other roommates in the Cascade Meadows complex.
“I would recommend [Whatcom housing], with other places costing a lot more,” Sana said.
International students are given priority access to housing because of the significant distance they travel, Smiley said. Student athletes are also given priority, otherwise, it’s first come, first served, she added.

Info graph by Shelby Ford
Info graph by Shelby Ford

A lot of the international students request to be placed with American students, “for the learning experience,” Smiley said.
International students choose Whatcom housing over homestay for the level of independence it offers, although it means following the student code of conduct, Smiley added.
“We don’t have many options, we don’t want to live with a host family, so we chose Whatcom [housing] because we want more freedom and independence,” Thai said.
While the apartments are a more independent option, there are still resident advisors who live on-site and are responsible for move-in and move-out inspections, quarterly inspections, emergencies, maintenance requests, and any assistance the student residents need, Santos said.
Santos said he would like Residence Life to use Canvas to connect and coordinate with the students who are in Whatcom housing.
Smiley said she would want a residence hall on campus.
“I would like to keep the other apartments, and that way we can transition people from the residence hall to the apartments,” Smiley said.
More information on housing is available both on Whatcom’s website and on campus, at the Residence Life office in the Syre Student Center Room 208.

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