During short school breaks, like spring and winter break, students who decide to stay on campus must pay an extra fee to live in their dorm rooms.
These fees apply to students living in North Complex and the Burgess/Norton residence halls.
Cody Burggraff, assistant director of housing, said that the payment for accommodation in the halls during a break is determinant on what type of break it is.
“The halls do not officially close during Thanksgiving break, because the per day cost is built into the tuition of students, making it possible for students to go through halls as they please, during the break without the fear of being charged,” he said.
Burggraff said the only requirement from the housing department was that students filled out a sign-up form, indicating their interest to stay during the Thanksgiving break.
“The only thing that we ask is that we send out an email, asking students to sign up, so we know who is here in case of an emergency or a need to track someone down for various purposes, and we know who is around,” Burggraff said.
Housing during Thanksgiving break continues as normal, he said.
“Nothing changes much for Thanksgiving break, we have staff on campus and our on-call number is still available,” he said.
However, Burggraff said housing does charge students who decide to stay in the residence halls for winter and spring break.
“The small breaks that we do charge for is winter and then, spring break. We are closed, the buildings are shut down and the students that want to stay have to sign up to stay, and there is a per day charge to when they stay because that cost is not in their cost upfront when they are being charged for the semester,” he said.
Students who decide to stay are required to pay between 19 and 20 dollars per night.
This fee does not apply for residents in Coyote Village, McFadden hall and Brookman hall.
Burggraff said the reason why the per-day paying rule does not apply to residents in these dormitories is that “they are upper-class students and have more ties to the campus, in terms of jobs.”
“That is something that has gone through campus approval for that purpose, so, Burgess/Norton hall and North Complex are the only ones that have to pay to stay,” he said. “However, for residents of Brookman, McFadden and Coyote Village, they need to let us (housing) know that they are staying so we could keep their card access on.”
“Per our semester setup within USD, the breaks (winter and spring) are not charged upfront, because the majority of students do go home and we do not want to charge students for a break they are not going to use,” Burggraff said.
The money charged for the breaks goes into utility bills and staffing of the buildings, Burggraff said.
Burggraff said that although changes could be possible for future breaks, the fees for the upcoming spring break have already been decided.
“I understand that that could be somewhat overwhelming for a student …so we can look at communicating that out sooner, and working with our international office to look at alternatives in the future,” he said.
International students, in particular, have concerns about the housing fees during breaks.
Samuel Fosu, a post-doctoral chemistry major, shared his experience on extra accommodation payment he encountered in his first week at USD.
“For the reopening week, official check-in was on Friday, but from Tuesday to Thursday there were academic activities and international students orientation,” Fosu said. “I had a professional exam to write, a department meeting and orientation to attend, and yet I was billed for staying those four days, even though technically, I was here earlier to undertake those school activities.”
Fosu said that the backgrounds of students should be a considered factor when making these decisions.
“I think they need to consider the background of the students; we have like international students who don’t have much of a choice and cannot travel home for those short breaks,” he said. “Having been billed for the entire semester to stay in the dorms, I think charging them something extra for the short breaks, could put them in uncomfortable situations.”
Kaci Reiser, a senior English major, said sharing her thoughts on paying for short breaks said payment should be dependent on if the student was an international student or a domestic student.
“International students do not really have nowhere else to go, and the campus is shut down,” she said. “And during breaks, there is no one working in the front desk, no one cleaning the hallways or the bathrooms or anything.”
Reiser said lowering the fees was a possible solution to her concerns.
“I think they could definitely lower the prices or make it a little bit more reasonable because I think students already pay enough for the dorms,” she said.
Reiser, who has stayed in the dorms for three of the breaks, expressed the difficulties she had regarding the dormitory situation.
“I understand that the school has to make their money, but $20, I don’t know, I live in the Norton/Burgess hall, and they are not updated, they are so small, and definitely not worth like $20 for a night, especially when no one is there working or cleaning the bathrooms,” Reiser said.
Benedict Odai, a first-year computer science major and international student who has stayed on campus during breaks, said students should have better awareness of housing policy before coming to USD.
“As freshmen, international students, you have no choice to be honest, because you have no other place to go and live and so you have to pay,” Odai said. “When I came here, I did not know I had to pay to live in the dorms during the spring break since it is just one week, but at the same time, I should have read it in the contract before coming.”