Rice ends on-campus winter housing accommodations
Rice will not be offering on-campus housing for winter recess this year. Due to COVID-related travel restrictions, on-campus housing was available for the past two winter recess periods.
Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman said that the decision to revert to pre-pandemic operations, when no on-campus housing was provided, follows the trend of various other aspects of campus life this year.
“When COVID began, we offered winter housing on a petition-only basis, mostly for international students who were unable to travel home because of border closures,” Gorman said. “Since circumstances surrounding COVID and travel are less severe, we have reverted to our pre-COVID operating posture.”
As of now, there are countries that continue to have strict COVID-19 related travel restrictions. For example, China, where more than 40% of Rice’s incoming class of international students is from, still requires a minimum 10-day quarantine at a government-selected facility or hotel at the traveler’s own expense.
Gavin Zhang, Canadian international student originally from China, said he doesn’t understand the university’s policy, as it creates an inconvenience for international students.
“It just does not make a lot of sense to me because, for a lot of international students, it’s really expensive to fly,” Zhang, a Wiess College senior, said. “And that’s not to mention [the] quarantine policies with COVID. For example, if I flew back to China, I would have to quarantine for two weeks out of winter break.”
Executive Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars Adria Baker said that the OISS has received “quite a few” inquiries from international students about this year’s winter housing policy. She said that the OISS has created a short-term housing task force, which will be reviewing issues related to winter housing.
“OISS is referring students to possible short-term housing options as we learn of them, and many of the students are working together to find temporary places to live,” Baker said.
Gorman said that winter break housing is not offered due to services on campus being minimally staffed to allow staff a proper break. She said she does not expect the university to offer an exception process for students.
Zhang said that while he understands the university’s wish to allow staff a proper break, he said most non-university employees do not receive breaks in accordance with school timelines.
Housing and Dining has a resource for short-term living arrangements on their website for students looking for winter break housing, according to H&D Director David McDonald. Rice’s Access and Opportunity fund is also accepting requests for subsidies for off-campus living accommodations.
Steven Cloud, a Lovett College junior and off-campus representative, said that he was prompted by his college coordinator to compile resources for individuals who may need housing accommodations over winter break. Cloud said that he, along with his co-rep, asked current off campus students at Lovett if they would like to sublease their off campus housing over winter break to students in need.
“So far we have just sent out a form to the OC students letting them know about the situation [and] letting them know about the opportunity to sublet their places during winter break since many of them will be traveling as well,” Cloud said.
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