What students can expect in housing and dining this fall

Move-in day at CSUMB main campus

Move-in day at CSUMB main campus

April 9, 2021

By Walter Ryce

The past year of the COVID-19 pandemic might feel like one of the most profound and exhausting years in a generation.

But thanks to widespread masking, social distancing and abiding by other safety measures, as well as the speed of President Biden’s administration in administering vaccines, recovery is happening and brighter days are coming.

That will manifest in many ways.

In a recent letter to CSUMB faculty and staff, President Ochoa anticipated that “The day is drawing closer when we will be able to return to our beloved campus, enjoying each other’s company face to face.”

We're not out of the woods yet. We highly recommend students get vaccinated before the start of the school year, and be prepared to continue masking and other safety measures until the federal government declares the end of the pandemic.

Campus employees have been planning for the return of as much learning, activity and population as can safely be accommodated. Here is what CSUMB students can expect in two important areas: housing and food.


Student Housing is preparing to reopen to full capacity for the 2021-22 academic year to support in-person instruction.

Residence halls on the main campus come in different styles and configurations. Some have private bathrooms. They all come with desks, chairs, bed and mattress, dresser, cable tv, fast wireless internet and more. The buildings require ID card for access and 24-hour staffing, and come with generous meal plans (more on that soon).

They are walking distance to four dining facilities, classrooms, the library, health center, administrative offices. Not to mention the lush green lawn that’s perfect for napping, studying, cloud-watching, frisbee, lunch, outdoor meetings, whatever your imagination (and the law) allows.

That’s main campus.

Nearby campus housing known as East Campus are 1,200-square-foot, suite-style apartments with a garage and balcony or backyard, that offer a hybrid of independent apartment living with the security and amenities of the university (minus a meal plan).

These are about a mile away from the main campus, nestled among foresty neighborhoods of curvy streets lined with walking trails, and appointed with parks, tennis and basketball courts, dedicated laundry rooms — all a short drive, bus or bike ride away from the ocean, restaurants, medical facilities, movie theater and shopping malls.

And students on campus for Fall 2021 will be the first to experience the gleaming new, enormous Otter Student Union (check out this sneak peak video on Instagram).

You might have questions. Are the rooms furnished? Does it make sense to bring a bike? What will the roommate situation be like? All valid questions, and frequently asked. Thus, they are answered in this handy FAQs web page.

And when we talk about Student Housing, that means a lot more than just a living dwelling, but also making friends and living well.

“We are so excited to invite students back to campus to revive the campus spirit,” says Shanae Vaifanua, associate director of Residential Life. “Some of the traditional events anticipated to return next academic year are our ice cream social, pool party, open mic nights, harvest dinner, haunted house, trunk or treat and more!”


Warning: do not read further if you are hungry. A mix of new restaurant, cafeteria, eatery, take-out and cafe options will be available to students across campus.

In the new Otter Student Union, the Sea Store Market will specialize in fresh, ready-to-eat sandwiches and wraps, salads, sushi, snacks and more — that’s also where you will pick up your mobile-only Ghost Kitchen street taco orders. Burger831 will be a modern throwback of fresh burgers, fries and shakes; Paper Lantern will serve up fast-casual Asian cuisine and sushi; and the campus Starbucks will move into an airy, modern space in the new building, and, no doubt, fill it with the aroma of roasted coffee beans.

The campus's new food and dining provider, Chartwells Higher Education, is emphasizing healthy foods made from scratch, a clearly labeled allergen-friendly program, and vegan and vegetarian options.

They also support sustainability, saying “Chartwells is committed to sourcing local produce and…by being situated in an agriculturally rich area such as California, there is no shortage of it.”

In addition to this bounty of eating, they’ll be the campus caterer, offering custom-made menus according to audience tastes, from high-end events to “everyday buffets” to student-focused foods — what kinds of foods might fall into those categories, hmmm?

Also starting this Fall, you will be able to put in mobile pick up orders at all campus restaurants using an app, and you can pay with a meal plan if you have one.

So we've got your food and housing covered. Which gives you more time to spend on learning, making fun memories, and being safe and healthy.