By: Kai Bauer-Seeley
I am no stranger to UCSB’s housing problem – I lived in a hotel 9 miles away from
campus for an entire quarter last year. But at the Sandpiper Lodge, I had a window, a
roommate, space for my belongings, space to walk.
None of these “amenities” will be offered to students at Munger Hall, the proposed
megadorm to fix UCSB’s housing crisis. With construction planned to begin this year
and be completed in 2026, Munger Hall will be a 9-story, 3,500 bed residence hall with
unique (to be polite) floor plans.
The first floor of Munger Hall will be a multipurpose center with a restaurant, market,
study room, mail room, and theater. The top floor will consist of a gym, a recreational
center, a classroom, three reading rooms, and a second market. Sounds good, right?
Sure, unless these floors are only there to make up for the inhumane conditions of
Floors Two through Eight. Each of these seven middle floors will be made up of eight
“houses,” each of which will be made up of eight suites. Each suite will contain eight 70
square-feet single bedrooms. These bedrooms will be windowless; only 6% of the
bedrooms of Munger Hall will have any access to natural light.
Image of a Munger Hall Single Bedroom With an Artificial Light Panel
Before we get to my opinion as a graduating Gaucho, let’s see what the experts have to
say. In November 2021, an independent panel was formed to review the proposed
design of Munger Hall. The panel was made up of UCSB professors, an architect, a
psychologist, and a student representative. The panel finished its review in October
2022 and released a 200-page report to the UCSB Academic Senate and Chancellor
Yang in November 2022.
The report cites academic literature and surveying to support its main finding: that the
proposed design of Munger Hall will most likely have significant negative effects on
future UCSB students’ mental health. The report includes a particularly terrifying section
titled “Massiveness and Density: Prison-like Design,” in which the word “prison” is used
41 times to describe Munger Hall.
The views expressed by the independent panel reflect a consensus in the international
architectural community. In 2021, architect Dennis McFadden resigned from UCSB’s
Design Review Committee, which he had been on for 15 years, to protest the
university’s decision to move forward with plans to construct Munger Hall.
McFadden did not mince words following his resignation, writing that “As the ‘vision’ of a
single donor, the building is a social and psychological experiment with an unknown
impact on the lives and personal development of the undergraduates the university
The “single donor” McFadden is referring to? 98-year-old Charles Munger, vice
chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and amateur architect. Following the release of the
independent panel’s report, Munger spoke about Munger Hall, the megadorm that he
designed himself and committed $200 million toward financing.
Addressing the UCSB housing crisis, Munger opined that “... Munger Hall and other
buildings like it would immensely help that situation, so of course it should be a totally
uncontroversial project. You can hardly imagine anything that makes more sense.”
This quotation illustrates why Munger is so unqualified to architect a college residence
hall. He clearly doesn’t understand the potentially catastrophic ramifications of his
Image of Munger Hall
I am graduating from UCSB this month, but once upon a time, I was a newly 18-year-old
freshman living in the dorms. I lived in a triple, and while my roommates and I generally
got along, we dealt with many issues along the way. One of my roommates would never
turn off his alarm. The other’s girlfriend slept over every night of every week, and the
two of them would often keep me up at night.
For those out there who support Munger Hall’s single bedroom design because its
residents won’t have to deal with roommate problems such as the ones I dealt with,
guess what? That’s life. I am thankful I was presented with challenging situations as a
freshman in the dorms. They prepared me for challenging situations I have faced over
the last three years, situations with much higher stakes. And the lessons that I learned
as a freshman in a triple dorm room will help me post-graduation, as a (hopefully) future
homeowner, husband, and father.
My two freshman roommates were also my first friends at college. We went to the dining
hall together, the gym together, and we made new friends together. I am an extrovert
now, but coming into college, I was nervous and anxious about meeting new people. I
don’t know how many friends I would have made as a freshman if I lived in a single
bedroom by myself.
I do know that my mental health would have suffered. I would have been relieved to be
sent home toward the end of winter quarter 2020, instead of sad and disappointed to
leave my friends and the campus that I quickly learned to love.
Of all people, I understand how real UCSB’s housing crisis is. As a freshman, I lived in
the dorms before being sent home because of the COVID-19 outbreak. As a
sophomore, I lived at home for the whole year. As a junior, I lived in a hotel room for a
quarter, in Washington, D.C. for a quarter, and in a freshman dorm for a quarter. This
year, I pay $850 a month to share a garage with three other people in a 17-person
house for which monthly rent is $20,000.
UCSB’s most pressing concern is finding housing for its current and future students.
Adequate housing. Munger Hall is inadequate. Its design is inhumane and it is not the
answer. If constructed, it will cause an additional and much greater problem.
1. Alfred, Mark. “Nexus Explained: Munger Hall.” The Daily Nexus, 3 Nov. 2022,
2. Bach, Trevor. “‘It’s All Horseshit’: Charlie Munger Reacts to Critical UCSB
Report.” The Real Deal, 21 Dec. 2022,
3. Gordon, Aaron. “Independent Review Panel Finds UCSB’s Dormzilla ‘Unwise’
and Poses ‘Significant Health and Safety Risks.’” VICE, 21 Dec. 2022,
4. Hayden, Tyler. “Architect Resigns in Protest over UCSB Mega-Dorm.” The Santa
Barbara Independent, 28 Oct. 2021,
5. Kitayama, Grace. “UCSB Pulls Back Curtain on Giant Munger Residence Hall
Mock-Up.” Noozhawk, 30 Sept. 2022,
6. Walsh, Niall Patrick. “Updated Munger Hall Images Show Two Floors Removed
as Controversial Project Seeks Approval.” Archinect, 21 Oct. 2022,