Winter break dorm access would more adequately address certain students’ needs

By Piper Sartison

Elm Staff Writer

As the holidays quickly approach, students are once again faced with the reminder that they are not allowed to stay on campus during winter break.

According to Best Colleges, this is the case for many schools across America. If students do stay, they must get approved by Residential Life, and many of the facilities on campus will be strictly limited or closed.

“Students can remain on campus during winter break in extremely rare exceptions of circumstances,” Community Coordinator of Residential Life Michael Nichols said.

According to Nichols, Washington College students staying over winter break are usually employees of the College who are “sponsored by a department opting to house them,” or there are “exceptions of circumstance, that being students who may not have anywhere else to go.”

According to Director of Residential Life Amy Sine, these restrictions are due to the College itself closing, “as the majority of students live close by and would not need the winter housing, students are not in classes, the dining hall is closed, and there are few staff around to support students during the winter break.”

According to Nichols, a wide variety of factors contribute to the campus’ residential shutdown over break. With the impact of residential resources closing and resident assistants departing campus, according to Nichols, said that the “last thing we want is for someone to be in a spot of trouble and [to] not have access to resources for help…Our department is only three people after all.”

The Residential Life department is considerably small compared to others on campus.

“With a few of us that are here, it’s difficult to provide support to a large group while also juggling the planning for large scale projects,” Nichols said.

In certain circumstances, however, students who pay the increasingly high tuition and room and board fees should be allowed to remain on campus during the break, especially if their home life is not a safe environment. Additionally, any student employer should be allowed for exemption through the sponsorship of the department that they are working for.

According to senior Autumn Scully, the process for her to get approved to live off campus during break was lengthy. Scully is a student employee, and is one of few students who has been approved to remain in the dorms for break.

“A lot of student jobs don’t offer hours over winter break and it’s such a short period of time that I think it’s silly that they don’t let students stay regardless,” Scully said.

In accordance with other colleges, WC is one of the many schools that offer limited accommodation for students who are looking to remain on campus during break.

In contrast, varying financial factors and circumstances can lead to students needing the option of staying in their dorms for the holidays. Taking into consideration the extremely high amount of college tuition that students are annually paying across the country, colleges should not be allowed to limit the opening and closing of residential dorms.

The process for exemption here at WC seems to be more accommodating than other schools, and the employers of WC residential life seem to be doing the best with what they have been given.

However, if we want to be truly accommodating for students coming from a variety of lifestyles and backgrounds, the option to remain at WC during prolonged breaks needs to be widely available and clearly communicated.

Elm Archive Photo

Photo caption: Currently, the vast majority of students are restricted from accessing their dorms for the duration of winter and summer breaks.

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