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Regents tap the brakes on UCLA's plans for a 545-student residence hall

Sept. 22, 2023
The regents held off on approving the project amid concerns that the rooms were too small and how that would affect student mental health.

UCLA's plans for a residence hall with most rooms going for just $600 a month have hit a roadblock when the University of California Regents raised questions about whether the rooms were too small and how that could affect student mental health.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the regents deferred a vote on the budget and design of the eight-story, 545-bed project.

“I don’t want to call these jails,” Regent Hadi Makarechian said during a finance committee meeting, “but ... these aren’t really good dorms.”

The planned space is 265 square feet for three beds, desks, closets, storage space and a refrigerator.

Regent John A. Pérez said that research has found that “micro-units” have been linked to negative mental health effects. 

The regents asked UCLA to come back with more information comparing the project’s room size and cost per bed to others across the University of California system. They will reconsider the project in November.

UCLA's plans for the new housing call for demolishing the existing Gayley apartments, a six-story structure that houses 100 students, and constructing the new facility.

At least 350 of the 545 beds would be reserved for low-income students for a $600 monthly housing fee. Demolition was set to begin in June 2024, with construction scheduled for September 2024 and move-in in September 2026, UCLA officials said.

A student survey administered between November 2022 and January 2023 showed no significant differences in satisfaction between the experiences in two- and three-bed units. The proposed Gayley Towers rooms would be comparable in size to the triple-occupancy rooms of 250 square feet in the newest campus complex, Olympic and Centennial Halls, which opened in fall 2021.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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