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UCSC students say fight to keep Camper Park open “not even close to being over”

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) - UPDATE ON MARCH 1, 2024 AT 10:30 A.M.- UCSC student Serena Dern is grateful she will get to live in her RV for the remainder of the school year.

Dern recalls how she felt when UC Santa Cruz made the initial announcement to remove everyone from Camper Park.

"We were all extremely shocked. You know, people were crying. They said it was non-negotiable," said Dern

It turns out, it was negotiable. Shortly after KION spoke to the university on Thursday, the school decided to roll out some options for students to stay. Options that include disconnecting propane tanks at the campus housing site.

"By removing the propane tanks, we feel like we've addressed a lot of the fire risk that exists," said Scott Jason-Hernandez with UCSC.

A fire in the area a couple of years ago stoked concerns among UC Santa Cruz staff about an even bigger fire possibly taking place, especially with the number of propane tanks at the site.

Most of the students said they're willing to disconnect their propane tanks but are worried the park won't be around next year.

"We're being punished for maintenance and admin's incompetence, like, even when I moved in into the moldy trailer, I spent time reporting everything," said Mery Ter-Avetisysan, a UCSC student.

Students tell KION the battle isn't over until the school decides to open up applications for Camper Park next year.

"Now that we're able to stay here until June. Our next goal is working with the admin and higher-up facilities to say, like, we want to work with you to make this into affordable housing for students," said Dern.

"A lot of us are still very passionate and we're still like having continuous meetings and talking about these issues. So hopefully there will still be a camper park," said Ter-Avetisysan.

The school says there is no exact deadline on when students have to disconnect their propane tanks as they are working with each student individually. When that happens students say they can use the communal space at camper park to cook and shower.

The school says they received grant funding from the state that will allow the school to provide a new lower-cost housing program in the fall of next year.

UCSC allows Camper Park to stay open for students who agree to disconnect propane tanks at housing site

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) - UC Santa Cruz is addressing concerns about a cheaper housing alternative being removed from its campus.

Students living at Camper Park were initially told they had to move out at the end of March over safety concerns at the park.

For the past two years, Macy Van Vliet has called the camper park on the UC Santa Cruz campus home.

Van Vliet says she's a student with disabilities and can't live with others on campus. Adding staying at a Camper Park is the cheapest housing option available at UCSC.

"One year of housing at the trailer park is equivalent to what one quarter in a dorm with a meal plan would be," said Van Vliet.

Both Van Vliet and fellow student, Alina Singh, were concerned after UCSC staff initially told all 41 students​ they had to move out by the end of March.

"We are charged about like $6,000, like the entire academic year. And the next cheapest option is like $9,000. That's like three grand that I don't have," said Elina Singh, a student at UCSC.

UCSC tells KION this decision was made due to maintenance and safety issues like mold and fire hazards at the park.

"We do regular inspections of the units every year. So we've seen that it's been challenging to maintain them," said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Communications Scott Hernandez-Jason.

As of Thursday afternoon, UCSC said the students can now stay at Camper Park but only​ if they agree to disconnect their propane tanks.

"We'll be providing updates along the way. As we take a look at what this program is and whether it's something we feel like we can sustain," said Hernandez-Jason.

The school says they will be providing housing options with the same rate while inspections are being made with a free meal plan. Despite the change, students are still considering options of their own.

"I'm honestly scrambling like I've asked like a few friends, like if I can like to steal stamps to get their apartments and they can maybe like shade three to a room or something because that's the best that I can come up with," said Singh.

I asked the school why they couldn't wait until summer to move out students so students more time to process and look at other housing options. UCSC told KION the safety concerns prompted quick action.

The school says they will be working with each student individually to discuss housing solutions.

For now, applications are not being accepted for people to stay at Camper Park next year.

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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