On October 25th, Cal Poly Humboldt sent out a mass email to the student body about a parking regulation for unhoused students parked on campus lots.
In the email they stated that: “There have been an increasing number of RVs and other vehicles parked long-term in university lots across campus. These vehicles are in permit-only parking spots, and have been parked in spaces overnight in violation of university policy that includes a prohibition on overnight camping on campus and overnight parking for anyone not living in university housing.”
And continued to say:
“Due primarily to these concerns, the university has begun notifying those living in the vehicles that university policy will soon be enforced without exception.”
In response to this email, a petition to stop the eviction was set up, with over 2,000 signatures at this moment.
“I think it’s really unfortunate because, whether they live in their vehicle by choice or because some people are into like van life and stuff like that, or if they they’re doing it financially because rent is so high and then housing on campus is ridiculously high it’s like, they should be able to at least park on campus, they weren’t disrupting anyone,” Isabella Escamilla, a sophomore at Cal Poly Humboldt said.
“There’s no other choice for some people but to live in your cars or your vans and it seems off that if the school has this many empty beds, then why are they evicting people and saying, you’ve got to go find an apartment, even though most apartments are probably taken up by now?” Paytonne Evans, a first year at Cal Poly Humboldt said.
“There’s plenty of parking to go around. so why would we limit those,” Kiera Sladen, a first year at Cal Poly Humboldt said.
“There are open spots, but they’re just not giving them so students have just chosen to, like, take control of their situation, and then they’re shutting that down, too,” Ruth Worthington, a first year at Cal Poly Humboldt said.
The cal poly email also states that: “Policy aside, overnight camping in university parking lots creates unsanitary and unsafe conditions for both those encamped and for our campus community at large.”
But some students see things differently.
“Well, I haven’t really seen any unsafe and unsanitary conditions because I’ve gone over to my friend’s place by the big parking lot where all the vans are, and I barely noticed them,” Evans said.
“I have a friend who lives in her rv and like, what she said is that they’re the opposite of that, like they make an effort to like, pick up trash and all of that stuff,” Escamilla said.
“I think that was just some rhetoric thrown in there to try to make us support their decision,” Sladen said.
Caleb Chen, a graduate student currently living in his van on campus, expressed that being parked on campus is the safest he’s felt while living in his van. And that the email was a complete shock to him.
“I have a permit and all of the students that I’m aware of, they have permits […] that email was very ambiguous and it had a lot of insinuations, honestly seemed a little bit slanderous about, you know, sanitary conditions and stuff like that,” Chen said. “During the weekends they don’t do any parking enforcement so there are other alternative living people who aren’t students, who sometimes come just during the weekends […] I think there’s definitely a chance that the parking administration has been, you know, confounding the two.”
The university has offered temporary housing, suggestions for parking spaces off-campus, and to help look for off-campus housing in an already stressful housing market.
“They should realistically make a solution for students who are already paying to be here, for tuition and a parking permit,” Chen said. “And we were told by the parts of the administration earlier this semester that sleeping in the vans in the parking lot would be okay.”