Commentary: Orange Coast College dormitories are a boon for the community

A rendering depicts Orange Coast College’s new 323-unit, 814-bed student housing development that is planned to be completed in fall 2020.
(Rendering Courtesy of MVE + Partners)

Orange Coast College is building dormitories that should be complete and functional within a year and a half. This is something to be enthusiastic about.

Beyond the convenience of giving students a place to sleep, a school that has sufficient live-in facilities creates a culture that extends beyond the normal school day, becoming an organically forming community at night, on weekends and even during holidays. When students are not studying, they can spend their time at sporting events, entertainment facilities, the gym, etc.

For many regular students, it is hard to find a place where students can have their own room, with a social environment dedicated to studying and a social atmosphere. For people who wish to become doctors, engineers or enter other demanding professions, they often need places to study, preferably near libraries.

Rather than being a charitable endeavor, the economic payoff from having a fully functional college is quite real. By having a place where a student can live, study, get comprehensive health services, including psychological care and eventually transition into four-year schools or the workforce, community colleges serve as a microcosm to help launch thousands of people into the forefront of the economy without causing excessive financial burden (as four-year schools often do).

More international students will be attracted to OCC and have a convenient way to bring a global mindset into a place previously stereotyped as provincial. Thousands more international students mean a great benefit for the local economy.

Should corporations prioritize local development and be up-to-date in applications of technology, they can provide the jobs, work experience and income that community college students need to engage in the economy. Look at Irvine, which flourished partly because the fully functional UC Irvine transitioned graduates into productive local community members.

Costa Mesa can be such a place, where economic development can occur and social programs, such as healthcare and education, can revitalize it, simply by prioritizing community building and human resource development. Dormitories are indeed a great place to start.

Former Newport Beach resident Joseph Klunder now lives in China.