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Some students allowed to stay in dorms during break

When Bianca Marc arrived at her new dorm room in Argos at the beginning of the fall semester, she didn’t realize she would be packing her bags a little over three months later.

Beginning Dec. 11 at 5 p.m., on-campus residents will be required to vacate their dorm rooms until Jan. 8 at 10 a.m. – the start of the spring semester. But some students will be allowed to stay on campus.

“I didn’t know,” Marc, a freshman majoring in nursing, said. “But I was going home anyway.”

Dorie Paine, director of Housing and Residential Education, said the University has a fiscal obligation to ask students to leave campus during the break.

“There are costs associated with having the halls open rather than closed,” she said. “Increased utility costs, toilet paper, etc. that gets used when people are there as opposed to when people are not there. Also, we have to staff the buildings with on-call RA’s (residential assistants), and senior staff as long as the buildings are open.”

Yet, the option to stay on campus is still available for students living in Magnolia A, C and G residence halls.

Ana Hernandez, dean of Housing and Residential Education, said the additional cost to keep those facilities operating over the break are factored into the housing agreements of students living in those halls, regardless of whether or not they elect to stay on campus.

She said these halls were chosen to remain open because they house families and international students in the USF INTO program – populations that may have a harder time finding temporary housing over the holidays.

Ashkan Mahdavitavakkoli, a freshman majoring in civil engineering, is an INTO student from Iran who learned English last year in Azerbaijan. He said when he came to USF this semester he was only able to procure a one-way visa with a duration of four years. This means that if he leaves the United States before his visa expires it will be cancelled, barring him from ever returning.

“When I spoke to my RA at the (beginning) of the semester they said they were going to kick us out. I said, ‘What? Where am I going to stay? I’m an international student,'” he said.

But Mahdavitavakkoli found out later through his RA that all INTO students are allowed to remain in their dorms through the break, as is the case with all “special case students,” Hernandez said.

“We try to acknowledge and accommodate that not all students have the opportunity to, or the desire to leave campus during the Winter Break. For our international students and for out-of-state populations specifically,” she said. “Those are two populations that really seem to take advantage of the winter break offerings, and we want to make sure there are options available to them.”

Hernandez said all students who need to remain on campus over the winter break would be able to do so if they pay the incurred costs. The price to stay in a single room in the Magnolia halls is $794.35, while its $736 to remain in a Holly single. Those prices are pro-rated from the regular lease rate and are based on a 26-night stay over the break.

Marc said the added cost associated with remaining on campus is a deterrent to students who might otherwise remain over break.

“(The option is) convenient and inconvenient at the same time,” she said. “Some people can’t go home and some people want to. This gives (students) a reason to go home.”

According to the housing website, students will be able to register for these accommodations until Dec. 6. No dining facilities will be available to students living on campus over the break and all university offices will be closed. However, the Holly M and Juniper-Poplar information desks will remain open.