The Orion

Updated off-campus housing guide educates students, brings community together

Dan Herbert, Director of Off-Campus Student Services, aims to bridge the gap between the campus and the community to solve ongoing misconceptions about college students. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

Dan Herbert, Director of Off-Campus Student Services, aims to bridge the gap between the campus and the community to solve ongoing misconceptions about college students. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson


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Chico State hired a new position on campus this past summer to update the off-campus housing guide and bring the university, law enforcement and community members together.

Dan Herbert, Director of Off-Campus Student Services, hopes having discussions about students, the university and housing situations will help alter misconceptions from the community about students causing trouble.

“The idea is to bridge the relationship between the city of Chico and the university, and university police, landlords, tenants,” Herbert said.

Herbet.jpg

Dan Herbert, Director of Off-Campus Student Services, aims to bridge the gap between the campus and the community to solve ongoing misconceptions about college students. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

The university is such a strong footprint in downtown and there are so many opportunities, impacts and relationships that happen every day, he said.

His job with Student Affairs strives to ensure there is a good conversation going on between all entities because all are related to each other in the community.

A big component of off-campus services is housing, he said. The university has been looking at things like the noise ordinance, special events and initiatives.

“Housing at Chico State is one of the key aspects of your education experience,” Herbert said.

Herbert is working on a certification program that will allow students to go online and receive training on what it’s like to find housing in Chico. Additionally, he is working on updating an off-campus housing guide.

Herbert helps students through situations with landlords and provides students with perspective and strategies to help manage landlord issues without throwing anyone under the bus.

As a member of the community and former city council member, he also hopes to help people understand how students are often perceived incorrectly.

“There was a non-student in south campus who saw mattresses sitting in front of a Greek house for several weeks,” he said. “When she got home from work one evening, all the mattresses were set on fire.”

When the woman came to Herbert, her assumption was that because they were in the driveway for weeks, the fraternity had set the fire.

Herbert went over to the house and had a discussion with the fraternity about perceptions.

“Unfortunately, the community often has a big bullseye on its back that says it’s the students’ fault,” he said. “Often times it’s not our students that do all the bad things, because they’re part of this community too.”

After the discussion, the fraternity members said they would not only clean up after hosting an event or party, but they would broaden that circle around their house even more, he said.

Another goal of the updated off-campus housing guide is to educate students on how to find good roommates and property that suits the renters.

“If you drive up to a place and there are weeds three feet high, it might be a good indication that the heater may not work and the plumbing might be funky,” he said.

One goal of his job is to help students become better and more successful tenants. Part of that job entails talking to landlords if their reputation is failing a bit.

Herbet has a relationship with many landlords in town and can easily call them to discuss concerns that students have brought to his attention.

“We don’t want a broad brush that says students are all bad,” he said.

Herbert thinks it’s important to have discussions with the university and Chico police to draw their attention to problem houses, instead of all students living in that particular area.

Student Affairs can not only assist students with off-campus housing, it also offers a full-pantry food bank for students who can’t put dinner on the table, he said.

“Not all students are bad apples,” he said. “My job is to have the university and community have a better marriage.”

Lauren Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or @laurentaylora on Twitter.

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Updated off-campus housing guide educates students, brings community together