Gone are the days when the main difference between one college dormitory and another was the number of people per room. Today’s college students often are presented with a host of options—from dorms with concierge and housekeeping services to luxury, off-campus apartments. Such accommodations come with a price, however, and the cost of these upscale options often means that the residents of the buildings are far less diverse than the amenities offered to them. When compared with more traditional college housing, the cost of living in residences both on and off campus at many public universities can vary widely. The result has been an increase in both racial and socioeconomic segregation among college students at these universities, even as many students profess their support for diversity.
Establishing a more equitable rent structure for on-campus housing is a good first step toward ensuring more diverse living quarters. But perhaps greater uniformity in the living quarters might also help. While colleges and universities must compete with one another to attract students, the race for the best and newest dorms should not be the main selling point for the college experience. Safe, clean housing is a necessity, but perhaps the resources devoted to luxury upgrades might be better spent on academic and extracurricular programs that, while less noticeable during campus tours, open students’ eyes to a diverse range of viewpoints and provide them with better value for their money in the long run.