Munras Housing at Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California opened for the first time this academic year, marking the first time the Institute has offered student housing in Monterey. It provides fully furnished housing for up to 85 Institute students, with singles, doubles and triples as well as shared kitchens, bathrooms, study spaces and common areas. The college is hoping that the new housing will make the program more accessible for students.
“I’ve heard of many students who were not going to come to MIIS because they couldn’t find housing, but were able to come because of building Munras,” Saiya Yanagihashi, director of residential life at MIIS, said in an email to The Campus.
In the past, students have struggled to find affordable housing in Monterey’s competitive housing market; some have even faced issues with landlords and renter scams. The new student housing will also make it more accessible for undergraduate students from the college to study at Monterey for a semester, as many landlords in the area only offer year-long contracts.
Munras housing starts at $4,500 for a triple room and is within a 10-minute walk from classes and other Institute facilities.
According to Yanagihashi, the planning and building process was a team effort between the Institute, construction company, building owners and the city of Monterey. When she began working for the Institute in August, most of the renovations were already complete. Jonathan Stoney and Lina Lyn, the two new RAs for Munras, were hired on Yanagihashi’s first day on the job.
“Building a healthy community is at the center of all the work we do,” Yanagihashi said. “We hired and trained RAs so they could enable community growth — both figuratively and literally.”
Yanagihashi said that many of the policies and procedures were adapted from Middlebury and other colleges. They created videos to send to residents about community standards, policies and procedures, while simultaneously going through all of the housing applications and pairing roommates.
According to the Munras Housing page, “A room in Munras is awarded through an application process and is not guaranteed.”
Placement into this housing is on a semester-by-semester basis, and the application includes questions regarding preference for sleeping, substances, communication and more. Students need to reapply each semester. The MIIS website also suggests that students with spouses or children are likely to find better housing with landlords in the area and also notes that Munras does not permit pets.
Move-in day for Munras housing was exactly one month after Yanagihashi began work at the Institute in August.
“The building was ready moments, not even 10 minutes, before students were able to move in,” she said.
According to Yanagihashi, the first 10 weeks after move-in is a critical time. It is when students either develop a connection to the campus and community or feel a sense of isolation. The Institute hosted about two programs each week, including game nights, movie nights, cookie socials, puppy playdates, pumpkin carving and arts and crafts parties.
Now that they have passed the 10-week mark, Yanagihashi said they are shifting focus and establishing a smooth move-out process.
“The first year has gone great! We have had a lot of fun putting together systems and policies, while also building connections with our students,” Yanagihashi said. “It’s all been an exciting learning experience, and I look forward to making tweaks to processes to improve upon them.”