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Students raise transparency concerns over move-out date


By Emily Abdow     4/11/17 9:06pm

The 2017 move-out date for nongraduating students has been changed to Friday, May 5 at noon in the housing agreement. Last year, students were required to move out by May 16 at 4 p.m. In response, several students are working with Housing and Dining to change the move-out date until after graduation.

Housing and Dining Senior Business Director David McDonald said H&D chose the move out date to align with the academic calendar.

“The move-out date changes every year,” McDonald said. “This year, the date aligned agreement with academic calendar. This includes the proration of costs when moving out as well.”

Proration of cost refers to the price being proportionate to the exact amount of time students live in their dorm room, as opposed to a flat rate which extends until graduation, regardless of whether students stayed until graduation day.

In an email to the Thresher, McDonald said nongraduates should vacate colleges following the last day of finals.

“The previous year we aligned the academic calendar to refund percentages,” McDonald said. “This year, H&D aligned with the corresponding last day of school.”

Jones College senior Theresa Cockerham said she and several other students drafted a petition to postpone the move-out date until after graduation. She planned to present the petition to the Student Association.

“As a graduating senior, this doesn’t affect me, but I disagree with nongraduates being forced to leave before graduation because of the time crunch it forces them into as well as the discouragement of supporting graduating friends,” Cockerham said. “Graduation isn’t just a celebration of the graduates, but of the entire Rice experience and the bonds that we make here.”

However, Cockerham said after speaking with the Jones senator she decided there is not enough time to make a change this year and will not be presenting the petition. Cockerham said she and other students plan to meet with McDonald soon.

Project Manager for Housing and Dining Kate Noonan agreed the move-out date was changed in order to align with the academic calendar.

“A few years ago, [H&D] aligned early move-out dates, in instances when students decide to leave the college at some point before the academic year is over, with Rice’s academic calendar,” Noonan said. “To support those efforts, the timeline to move for non-graduating seniors was changed to better align with the academic calendar.”

The housing agreement states requests to stay past the move-out date must be made in writing by April 21 and approved by H&D or a college master.

“We are not scrutinizing requests as much as we may in the future for non-graduating students to attend graduation,” McDonald said.

McDonald said H&D expected students to become aware of the change by reading the contract.

Will Rice College coordinator Joyce Courtois said Wiess College coordinator Ewart Jones emailed all of the college coordinators on March 28th with the move-out date of the agreement highlighted.

“It would have been helpful for [H&D] to send a reminder a bit earlier in the year perhaps,” Courtois said. “But, the housing contract everybody signs does clearly state the change. They did not change the contract after folks had signed it.”

Courtois said she had not originally noticed the change when reading the housing agreement.

Jake Nyquist, one of the co-sponsors of the SA resolution to charter the Rice Housing Working Group to increase communication between students and H&D, said the housing agreement and housing budget should be as transparent as alcohol policy changes.

“In general, Rice administrators are aware that students don’t read everything that they agree to and do make an effort to ensure that students learn about important changes, like major changes in the alcohol policy,” Nyquist, a Will Rice junior, said. “It would be beneficial for both students and H&D to follow this precedent and actively inform students about the important differences in the housing agreement year to year.”

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