Semester by the Sea Student Handbook

Our mission:  Calamigos is a place of recreation, renewal and learning.  Semester by the Sea is a part of Calamigos and our goal is to provide a high-quality living-learning environment for students!

Meet your Staff:

 Brian and Michelle Dawson have been working for universities for 24 years most recently being a Dean of Students.  Brian set up Calamigos student housing while working as a Dean at Pepperdine and was the first staff to live out at the ranch.  As Pepperdine wanted to focus on their new campus housing and not have a lease with Calamigos, we knew that Calamigos could run it bigger and better than Pepperdine by being entrepreneurial and service oriented.  We have 2 kids in college and we have traveled America working for 7 different universities.  Michelle is an event coordinator and worked for several university presidents managing executive events on university campuses.  Brian is finishing his doctorate in Leadership and is adjunct faculty teaching about leadership and National Parks.  We look forward to getting to know you more!  

MacKenna Waggener grew up in Mission Viejo, CA and is the oldest of 4 girls in her family.  She is currently a senior majoring in Math and minoring in Vocational Ministry.  This being said, her career path is still open ended as she continues to explore where God may take her after graduation.  Her faith and relationships with family and friends matter most to her.  MacKenna spent her sophomore year abroad in Argentina and says it was the most influential year of her life.  She is always excited to try new things and get to know knew people and enjoys spending time outside, reading, and hanging out with friends.  She is an easy-going person and is looking forward to getting to know everyone here at Calamigos! 

Alex Rant, is going to be a Senior at Pepperdine University. He grew up in Boise, Idaho with his parents and older sister, Rachel. Faith and family matter most to him, and he loves all things active and outdoors.  The natural beauty of Calamigos drew him to the ranch immediately. He loves the communal feel of Calamigos and the peace it evokes. He is studying Business Administration and Economics at Pepperdine, and has a deep passion for learning.  He is open to where his career path will take him, but Alex would love to start his own business one day. 

Ranch Philosophy

Calamigos has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors to this location because of the beauty of this place and the experience we offer.  At any given week at the ranch we will have numerous weddings, film shoots, corporate events and resort guests using different areas of the property. Some of these events are private and exclusive to the guests who have reserved them. Our philosophy is that the 200 acres of the ranch is to be used and enjoyed by all, but that this place is sustained by us selling exclusive rights to areas of the ranch.  We are successful by selling different corners and spaces of the ranch all at the same time.

For students, your space that is exclusive to you is your house or cabin.  We won’t ever sell that to someone else.  But, all other common space at the ranch past your dwelling may be rented out to a movie set or event at the ranch.  This includes parking, student centers, gyms, pools, walkways, dining venues, or any other common space at the ranch.  These are perks that we will offer to you as much as possible, but are not exclusive to you or a right included in your lease.  We will do our best to keep you informed of when spaces are rented out and as much as possible, we will provide alternative space to you.  If one pool is rented out for a weekend for a movie shoot, then we will try to open another pool for students to use.  If the Malibu Café is sold out for an exclusive event, we will try to host a dinner in the student center.  If we sell the space that is normally used for your parking, we will find an alternative place for you to park.

For these reasons, flexibility, sharing, and tolerance are qualities that we expect from those living at the ranch.  One day we may ask everyone to be quiet in common areas because they are filming a movie and the next day we may have three different bands playing at celebrations around the ranch.  You will also find that generosity is also part of our DNA.  If we shut down or limit one common area, we will often ask if we can treat you to a meal or an experience of your own at another part of the ranch or another day that week.  You may also find that an event or movie set may improve an area or leave something behind for you to enjoy.  We hope that you enjoy the variety of the ranch and learn to share common spaces with others.  This unique flexibility allows us to sustain and grow Calamigos Ranch. 

Our Uniqueness

While our goal is to provide everyone with a great experience here at the ranch, Calamigos does not sell standard experiences where everyone gets the exact same style of room, color of furniture, distance to parking, the same view, or the same price.  We want to go beyond expectations to offer experiences that you would not get anywhere else while remaining mindful of the reasonableness of requests. The accommodations and settings for all our rooms are unique and so are the people that live in them.  We cherish the uniqueness of the ranch and the numerous opportunities for personal growth. 

We are 100% sold out for the year with students waiting to get in.  This means that we cannot change assignments or move things around.  Our goal is to offer a one-of-a-kind experience for our students but if you find it difficult to adapt to diverse situations, living arrangements, or personalities, please visit the Dean of Students to discuss your concerns.  If we can find someone to take your spot in housing and it is agreeable with all involved, then we are happy to release you.  We also know that you are paying the high price of education because you want to be a student that is eager to learn.  Educators have long known that the forge of education goes far beyond the classroom.  We also hope that you will pause to consider that just maybe there is a life lesson of contentment or pride or joy waiting to be learned in your unique opportunity.

Semester by the Sea Services and Policies


Alcohol is allowed around the ranch for those who are of age. We ask that you moderate your drinking so that you won’t cause harm to yourself or impact the experience of other guests to the ranch. 

We will host events around the ranch and you are welcome to bring your own drink or grab a drink at one of the restaurants / bars at the ranch and bring it with you.  We do have one strict rule and that is if you or a guest have even one drink at our Semester by the Sea events, you promise that you won’t drive that night.  You live here and any guests drinking are welcome to crash at your place.  If we serve alcohol at an event, you must sign a quick promise note that you will be responsible and not drink and drive before you are served. 

Beach Club

The Calamigos Beach Club is available to students whenever it is open.  Students can hang out and enjoy the games, comfortable seating, casual dining, and beach equipment like kayaks and paddle boards.  Students can park at any available street parking and walk on in.  Let them know you are a Pepperdine Student living at Calamigos if they have any questions.  Follow the corded path to the tunnel that goes under PCH and gives you easy access to the beach and enjoy!

Conduct Referral

As a private housing program, we will handle issues with our students through the Semester by the Sea program with Brian.  If any behaviors become an ongoing problem that cannot be resolved, we will terminate your lease early.  In addition, there are three types of incidents that are so severe that we will also refer them to the Pepperdine Dean of Students.  These include any type of violence, Title 9 violations, or evidence of substance addiction.

Damage deposits

A $250 damage deposit is charged to all students.  This amount will be used to pay for any fees, rent owed or damage repair due at time of move out.  We will provide documentation to the email left on file within two weeks of your move out and send any returns to the address on file. 

DO Something!  If you see something wrong like domestic violence or assault or the way a human being is being treated; you need to do something and say something!  Call 911 immediately and / or report the incident to Brian as your Dean of Students.

Garbage and Recycling

Residents are responsible for taking out their own garbage.  Students in the Calamigos Cabins can drop theirs off next to the laundry room.  All other locations should take yours out to the closest garbage bins.  House pick up is on Mondays.


Calamigos Ranch is private property and guests that are willing to comply with our rules and expectations are welcome to come and enjoy the ranch.  If someone wears out their welcome, we will ask them not to come back.

If your neighbors are creating a disturbance, we ask that you go and talk with them first and try to work it out.  If guests in your house or cabin become a disturbance to the point the complaints reach us, we will respond in a three-part action.  The first time we will nicely ask you as a student to make a change in how you are managing your guests. The second time we will give you a formal warning, and the third time of disturbance we will ask your guests to leave and not come back to the ranch for the rest of the academic year.  This could happen over weeks or could happen all in the same hour.   If they return to the ranch after being asked to leave for the year, your lease may be terminated.

If you neighbor is not a part of Semester by the Sea, then talk to Brian, MacKenna, or Alex right away and we will work with the other areas of the ranch to address. 

We want you to have guests, but we also know they can be hard on roommates and neighbors.  Our housing spaces are designed and leased for just the number of student leased to your house / cabin.  If you need to have a guest or family member come visit for more than 3 days in a month, then start by asking your roommates and then contact Brian to get permission.  Any guest staying in your leased space for more than 3 nights out of a 30-day period without permission will be considered a tenant, rather than a guest, and will incur additional costs of $100 per night per person that will be added to your student account. 

Health Facilties

The gym, yoga studio, pool, and hot tub are all located just above the student center and available for you to use.  The hours for the facilities may change or be reserved, but in general they are:

Gym:  open 24/7 except for ongoing reservation from 11 AM to 12:30 weekdays

Yoga Studio:  open 24/7 unless reserved for private classes

Pool:  Open 6AM to 10PM daily.  Closed for ongoing reservation from 11 AM to 12:30 weekdays

Hot Tub:  Open 6AM to Midnight daily (please observe quiet hours and be stealthy after 10PM)

There are other pools, high rope courses, and, and fitness areas around the ranch and we ask you kindly to stay off.  The pond has boats that you can check out through the lifeguard.  If the lifeguard is not present, you may use them at your own risk as long as you are not a disturbance to other guests.

IT (wifi and TVs)

There are three networks around the ranch.  The fastest is “Pepperdine” or “Pepperdine 5G” and the password is “waverider”.  You may also find the guest network and there is no password or the Calamigos network and the password is “amigosforever”.

The IT company monitors all the routers on the ranch and if one goes down, they will dispatch someone.  If it is not the whole area down from a telephone pole accident and you are desperate, head to the student center or one of the common buildings of the ranch.

Let the staff know of your problems and please give as many specifics as possible.

The houses will all have a TV installed in them soon.  They are all smart TVs that you can connect to wifi and stream your favorite shows off the web.  Cable is provided in the Cabins, but not available in other areas.


Involvement in all activities is voluntary.  By signing the Semester by the Sea lease you have agreed to this accompanied student handbook.  Through this, students have been informed, and I know, that 1) activities in the outdoors involve risks that can result in damage to property, injury to persons, or death; and 2) Semester by the Sea and affiliates assumes no liability for damage, injury, or death occurring on such activities.  With this knowledge and information, I agree to participate in activities at my own risk.

By being involved in any activities or using equipment through Semester by the Sea, I release and hold harmless Semester by the Sea, Calamigos Ranch, Malibu Conference Center and each and every employee, authorized volunteer, owner, and agent of each of them, from any and all claims and causes of action that I may have against any of these institutions or persons, by reason of any accident, illness, injury, death, or other consequences resulting directly or indirectly from or in any manner arising out of, or in connection with, my being a participant in my participation with a Semester by the Sea affiliated program.  This release and hold-harmless statement shall also be binding on my heirs, assigns, successors, and all other persons who may claim through me.

Lock Outs:

Please make every effort to keep your keys available, but we also understand that lockouts happen to everyone.  If you are locked out of your cabin / apartment, you have several choices:

·         If you are in the Calamigos Cabins, you can go up to the front desk and have them make you a new key.

·         You can wait for your roommates to get home.

·         You can call Brian, MacKenna, or Alex for an unlock, but this will cost you $10 cash.  If you don’t have it, we will add it to your student account. 

You will need to wait until one of us is available.  If we are in classes and on campus for the day, you may need to wait many hours before a lockout is available.  We will also seek to see if facilities or anyone else can help.  New key cards cost $5 and new physical keys cost $10.


All students can have mail delivered to the main Calamigos address.  It must have “Semester by the Sea” in the address to be delivered to the student center.  It should be addressed as:

Student Name

Semester by the Sea

327 Latigo Canyon Road

Malibu, CA 90265

Mail is sorted at the Student Center on weekdays (Monday – Friday) in the afternoon.  No mail service is available on the weekends or during the breaks.  All packages or mail needing signatures will be signed off by the Calamigos staff on behalf of the students.  Mail cannot be forwarded from this address as all Calamigos mail is sent here. 

If you receive flowers or anything perishable to this address, we will call the phone number listed on file for you and make all attempts to get it to you as soon as possible.  If there is space in the student center refrigerator, we will place perishables in there.

Mail is placed in the student mailbox right by the front desk in the student center.

The houses with a street address may also have delivery to the mail box at their house.  If you elect to do this, you are responsible to share the mail with all the others that live at that address.  Because multiple people get their mail at these locations, mail cannot be forwarded from these addresses either.  The addresses for the houses include:

Mulholland House:  31590 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

Bunglalows: 31660 Pitsch Canyon Road, Malibu, CA 90265

House on the Hill: 305 Vera Canyon Drive, Malibu, CA 90265

The Nest: 295 Vera Canyon Drive, Malibu, CA 90265

Maintenance and Housekeeping

Each Monday housekeeping will enter your residence between the times of 9:30 AM to 5PM to clean the restrooms and complete any routine maintenance issues (like changing out filters or alarm batteries).

If you need something fixed in your apartment, you need to send a text to all 3 people:

424-346-3599:  Brian Dawson, CEO who wants to stay involved in making it better

805-953-6192:  Alfredo Saldivar, Chief of Operations and Facilities

310-579-1315:  Ramiro Mendoza, Semester by the Sea work order guru

Please put the specific location of your unit and the problem in your text.

Send it to all three of us anytime and we will get it done as soon as possible.  If you have an emergency like water is leaking out, then call us directly!  For the Calamigos Cabins, call the front desk at 818-575-4400.  For the houses, Rose, or Aspens, start with Alfredo and then call the other two of any time day or night.  Let me clarify that a clogged toilet is not an emergency at 3AM, but a broken pipe is!

If you submit a work order, you are giving us permission to enter your residence between the hours of 9AM to 6PM to fix the problem.  If you would like to schedule a time, please include that in the work order request.  Unless there is an emergency, we will not enter your residence without you asking for it. 

During the Christmas break, we will organize and schedule a through inspection of all residences.  We will notify all students in advance.  We ask that you clean up your residence before you leave and take out all trash or perishables before leaving.

Meal plans

Meal plans can be purchased or offered with your lease to be used at four locations:

·         Malibu Café - Calamigos Beach Club - Calamigos Resort Bar and Grill - Calamigos Resort Breakfast Room

All students who purchased a meal plan will be given a Semester by the Sea sticker to put on the back of their Pepperdine ID.  With the sticker in place, you can use your ID at any one of these 4 locations to purchase meals.  The total cost of the meal with tax and tip will be deducted from your balance.  Because there is a small number of students on this program, we are not going to purchase an expensive online meal tracking program at this time, but will be tracking all of your purchases through the restaurant accounting process.  If you need to know your balance, please ask Brian and we will get back to you within 2 business days with the total.  If you happen to go over your available balance, we will notify you and ask if you would like to add more dollars or charge the remaining to your student account.

Food prices are printed on the menus except for the breakfast at the resort.  The breakfast is normally $32 per person and students will get 50% off this rate for $16.  This is the only venue that is all you can eat with many handmade items like omelets and waffles.  Breakfast is open from 7AM to 11AM daily.

The only other way to save on your meals is to buy more dining plan dollars in bulk.  If you buy $1000, we will give a 10% bonus and give you $1100 in dining dollars.  If you buy $750, you get a 7% bonus and give you $800 in dining dollars.


Do not make modifications or construct anything in your residence.  If you need to modify or install something, please ask for our permission and help. If you would like to hang something from the wall, there is just about every type of Command Strip hanger for every type and these won’t leave a mark.  Any damage to your residence will be taken out of your damage deposit.


Parking is always at a premium at the ranch.  Each area has their own parking area that is large enough for residents.  Any guests visiting you at the ranch will need to find street parking or use the valet service.  With a little bit of a walk, there is always parking on Mulholland.

All students are required to have a Pepperdine parking permit that they register with Calamigos in the first week of school.  If there is ever a problem with parking, we will call your phone associated with your permit.  If a permit is not registered with Calamigos and is blocking other cars, it will be towed at the owner’s expense. 

From time to time, there will be BIG events at the ranch where thousands of visitors will come to the ranch.  During these times, Highway Patrol will be directing traffic and it will be hectic getting in and out of the ranch.  We will notify you of these events and we recommend that you come and go before and after the event, or just stay put at the ranch instead of fighting the traffic.  Friday, September 22, from 5 to 9 PM is one of these events where all parking, dining, and the student center will be shut down.


Pets are allowed to visit you at the ranch, but not allowed to say at Calamigos.  Please keep them on a leash at all times.  The fine for an unauthorized pet will be a minimum of $500 which will cover taking the odors out of your housing or possible replacement of flooring.  

If you have a service or support animal, you need to register it through Pepperdine and submit that approval paperwork to Calamigos.  We will schedule a meeting with you do discuss the details and pet management within your housing. 

We do have lots of wild animals that enjoy coming down to the ranch from the surrounding National Park lands.  Please keep the wild animals wild by not feeding them.  Feeding them can hurt the animal, the ecosystem, and attract pests like raccoons or other critters that can really cause some damage to our housing.


Our goal is to create a great community for you at Calamigos.  Community to us means an environment that we want to create where each one of you feel welcome.  We will host events at the ranch for students and want for you to be involved as much as you want.  We will solicit for program ideas and ask what types of events work for you.  Stay tuned to our facebook page and weekly emails about programs and events happening at the ranch.

Roommate disputes

If you are challenged with getting along with the roommates that you selected, then grab coffee or lunch with one of our staff, or a wise person in your life.  Be open to hearing solutions, but also know that most positive results come when you are willing to change your heart or perspective first.

Smoking / drugs

Smoking or vaping of any substance is not allowed at anywhere at the ranch or at events.  The fine for an smoking inside any of our buildings will be a minimum of $500 which will cover taking the odors out of your housing or possible re-painting or re-flooring.

In America, we spend over $300 billion fighting the diseases and effects of smoking each year (which is more than America spends on all the public higher education).  Smoking causes over 1,000 premature deaths every year and second-hand smoke causes over 41,000 cases of cancer each year.  This place is a place of recreation, relaxation, and restoration and smoking kills that for people.  If you or a guest wants to have a slow death, then you will need to go out to a public road (not an internal Calamigos Road) to go smoke.  And carry your butts to a trash can as they kill small animals, and cost us over $6 billion in fire-fighting costs annually. 

Illegal drugs are illegal everywhere.  If you are taking legal drugs, please make sure your behavior doesn’t impact the community.  If it does have a serious impact, we will ask you to leave.

Student center

The student center is open for you 24/7.  Included in the center is a mail center, community kitchen, study desk and print station, dining area for programs, and recreation room.  There is a push button access on the front door and the code is:   (to be determined).  Please do not share this code with others.  You are welcome to bring in guests, but please let them in yourself.

The bathrooms for the center are outside and around the corner towards the pool. 

The printer is available for you to use.  Once the color ink runs out, we will not replace it, but if you need to print in color, you are welcome to go get them refilled.  We will try to keep a small supply of paper there, but if it runs out, please bring your own.  You can connect wirelessly, attach the USB cord, or print by email at: (to be determined).

Follow up

·         Our student housing is not permanent housing, but temporary to the academic year of your university.   Leases may be offered past the academic year on a space available basis. 

·         Semester by the Sea is a part of Calamigos Ranch, but it is a separate business.  You have concerns or complaints as a student, please channel those through Brian, MacKenna, or Alex as your Semester by the Sea Staff.

·         Due to the rising costs in Southern California, we anticipate rates to go up annually.  We plan to start marketing to for new leases in February.  Information on how to apply will come in spring.