Imagine that you’ve got your spring break all planned out: you’ll finish class Friday afternoon, pack your bags, spend some time with friends and head home with your family in the morning to enjoy a week of relaxation. Maybe you’ll stop for a bite to eat in Madison and spend time catching up with the family before you all head to your final destination. It all sounds wonderful.
For many students, this was the start to the break they anticipated. However, Residence Life sent out an email on Feb. 16 which completely dismantled that possibility. According to the email, undergraduate students would have to be out of the dorms by Friday, March 5 at 7 p.m. unless they paid for extended accommodation. While such a policy is not uncalled for, it’s late announcement was unfair to students, many of which were forced to find alternate housing and change already-paid-for flights back home in order to comply with the order.
In previous semesters, campus policy exiting the dorms to leave for break has been Saturday morning, around 10 a.m. This gave students extra time to finish up their course work and pack for their flights or long drives home. There’s no real reason Drew should not maintain this policy: even when it comes down to money, an extra night in the dorms without any extra accomodation is hardly a financial loss. In addition, allowing students to stay the extra night saves students from having to pay for a hotel or find someone to stay with if their travel plans do not allow them to leave Friday night. This is especially true for students who have Friday afternoon class that they can’t miss and a long flight back home which doesn’t depart until the next morning.
Despite this, Drew’s decision to apply this policy and the university’s late announcement of it has left many students stranded. The university’s primary goal should be prioritizing its students and it has failed to do so in this situation.
First, the email was sent out just two and a half weeks before spring break, a point at which many students had already made travel plans and booked flights back home or to vacation destinations. The lateness of the announcement was insensitive to student needs because it forced them to change plans to try and adapt to it, despite a short deadline. This can add extra stress to travel for students who may live far away or have limited budgets. Many buy their spring break tickets far in advance since the prices are cheaper, while others do not have the luxury of selecting from an extensive list of travel departure times, especially if there are limited amounts of flights offered. Drew showed complete disregard for this because rearranging travel plans can be difficult, as well as expensive.
Now, countless students are in need of somewhere to spend the night before their early morning flights. While housing will let them spend an extra night on campus, they will still have to pay an amount not factored into their original plans. This is regardless of whether or not they will be eating before they leave. The extra payment could be difficult for some students to make and the fact is that it is something completely out of their control at this point because Residential Life made the announcement about housing so late.
As a result of the university enacting this policy, students are having to face last-minute stress toward spring break travel which could have easily been ameliorated, had the email been sent out sooner. At minimum, the announcement should have been made well in advance of spring break, giving students at least a month before the break to make and adjust travel plans. It is unclear why the university decided to announce this policy so last minute, however it is obvious that student needs were not thoroughly taken into consideration.