Virginia Community College leaders set to explore campus housing options
At four-year schools like Liberty University, students live where they learn. In recent years the school has invested millions of dollars in new, high-rise dormitories.
Across the street at Central Virginia Community College, students commute to campus because the school offers no housing of its own. The school's community connections coordinator, Philmika Reid, helps students locate housing options nearby.
"Housing is a safety factor," Reid told WDBJ7. "Having somewhere safe that you can go home at night is important."
Sometimes just getting to campus can be a struggle. Reid said many CVCC students rely on public transportation, which can create a longer commute.
"It takes so long for them to get here, due to various bus stops," Reid said.
Leaders with the Virginia Community College System, which oversees all 23 of the state's community colleges, are taking the first steps toward exploring the idea of campus housing.
In coming months the state agency will solicit proposals from contractors, who can suggest ways to build housing on or near existing community college campuses.
"I love the idea," remarked Muriel Mickles, CVCC's Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, who said a housing option could eliminate many of the barriers that prevent students from taking community college classes or obtaining a degree.
"I think that if there was housing, affordable housing, close by or on this campus, many of our students who are suffering with housing and food insecurity would find that to be an answer to their prayers," Mickles said. "It's very, very new and I know it's just a dream right now, but it is a dream that I believe can make a significant difference in the lives of the citizens we serve."
VCCS leaders say they do not have a timetable for issuing a request for proposals or evaluating the ideas they receive. Jim Babb, internal communications manager for the VCCS, said the agency will need to evaluate whether additional dining and student services would need to be provided if campus housing options were introduced.