A bill drafted by Cal Poly students to increase housing cost transparency was signed into law Oct. 4 and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020. 

The bill is an update on Senate Bill (SB) 467, which originally only required Universities of California (UC) and California State Universities (CSU) to post information on the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in areas near campus online, according to the bill.

The new bill requires the UC and CSU to provide information about the cost of housing outside of campus, estimates of other cost-of-living expenses, descriptions of how these estimates were calculated and a statement emphasizing how the costs may differ.

“I think it’s as good of an example of what you’re gonna get in political science,” political science professor Chris Den Hartog said. “Political science isn’t something where you can do as many labs or hands on kinds of activities as in some of the other disciplines.”

The students wrote the bill in the class California Student Bill Project (POLS 440), taught by Den Hartog and former Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian. The class is a three quarter-long series where students work to develop a policy that will help a specific problem they want to address.

“We wanted to address something the students would be familiar with and be motivated about,” Den Hartog said. “We also wanted something that was feasible to do within a year.”

The cost of a single room apartment for a student who lives on-campus after their first year this academic year costs $10,581, or an average of  $1,175 per month, according to University Housing. A double-room for continuing students living on-campus costs $10,017, or an average of $1,113 per month.

University Housing only charges residents for nine months as opposed to the usual 12-month lease off-campus residents sign.

However, the cost of off-campus living ranges depending on the proximity to campus and the type of housing. University Housing compiled a list of average prices for apartments near campus for single and double rooms. According to their list, housing can range from $750 to $1,435 per person per month.

Political science junior Lizzy Marshall said the class was very collaborative and group oriented. She said Den Hartog started the class off with an idea to address the perceived discrepancy of the cost of living figures on the Cal Poly website. 

In Spring 2019, the class traveled to Sacramento to lobby for their proposed legislation. Many students had the opportunity to meet with several members in the Committee on Higher Education, Marshall said. 

“The whole legislative process was cool to see right in front of my eyes,” Marshall said. “I learned a lot about lobbying and the process of drafting a bill.”

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