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Res Life implements policy for students staying in dorms during break

November 12, 2009

This year, students planning on staying in the dorms over winter break will need to sign up electronically and agree to pay a weekly fee, regardless of the number of nights spent in the dorm.

In the past, all students paid extra in their housing contract to cover the cost of a few students that stayed in the dorms over J-term.  This year, only students who are staying in the dorms over break will pay the fee. According to Sandra Scott-Deux, director of Residence Life, there are two main reasons for the change in policy.

The first is safety. Scott-Deux said Residence Life received concerns and complaints last year from students and parents regarding the number of individuals residing in the dorms over break and having no way of knowing who was supposed to be there and when. This plan allows better monitoring and more efficient staffing based on the number of students who sign up to stay. A couple of years ago, roughly 900 students indicated that they would be staying in the dorms over break, while only a couple hundred actually stayed over break. 

Scott-Deux said last year students could only stay if they signed up. The new student identification cards are another effort to raise the safety level of the dorms.

“We [Residence Life] will have a much better handle on the situation, so students will feel more safe and secure,” Scott-Deux said.

The second reason for the new policy is sustainability. As part of the University’s mission to continue its “green” efforts, returning to a contract for occupancy model with J-term helps to determine whether or not it is necessary to consider condensing buildings during J-term to conserve energy.

“This year students are allowed to stay in their own rooms, but we will monitor numbers carefully so we can make good decisions in the future about ways we may be able to conserve energy by putting students who need to stay for J-term in clustered locations,” Scott-Deux said.

Condensing the students in the dorms over break would also allow repairs to be made to buildings while students are not occupying them. Scott-Deux stated that working on something such as tiling the basements is hard when students are there, especially since food services are not available over break and the kitchens may be needed by students.

Students wishing to stay in the dorms are divided into two groups, according to the Residence Life Web site: University affiliated, which includes students taking J-term classes or those who work for a University department. The University affiliated students will pay a $35 per week fee. The other group is University non-affiliated, which includes students working off campus during break and international students, who are automatically approved. These students will pay a $70 per week fee. Athletes are also able to stay, but their housing request has to come from the coaches. So far, only six students have signed up for housing over break, but Scott-Deux said she estimates there will be close to 200 that sign up.

Residence Life is considering making break housing an option in the housing contract, giving students the option to sign up for 10-12 months when they complete the regular contract prior to the school year.

“I’m not opposed to that at all,” Scott-Deux said. “If the international population grows as it is expected to, then it may be considered more.”