An ideal situation for the majority of students during their winter break is going home to see their family. However, for international students who don’t have the funds to travel home or students without a stable family situation to return to, winter break can put them in a tough situation. This leaves students with the dilemma of paying the housing rates to stay on campus or finding a place to stay.
According to the resident portal, University Housing and Dining charges residents $1,015 to stay the entirety of winter break (Dec. 16 through Jan. 14), $105 for late stay (Dec. 16 through noon on Dec. 19) and $175 for early arrival (Jan. 9 at noon through Jan. 14).
Students should not be forced to choose between paying the financial or emotional fee of going home or paying to stay in their dorm. UHD needs to stop charging students to stay in the dorms over winter break.
Economics freshman Leonardo Garcia expressed his worries about the upcoming winter break.
“I don’t think I’m able to go home (for) winter break because of some recent family matters,” Garcia said. “I could maybe go with other relatives, but (I’m) not really sure. I need to either (get) the money to pay the fee, or find somewhere where I can stay.”
Melissa Garland, interim associate director for occupancy management, explained options students have if they’re worried about the additional housing fee.
“Students who are in need of housing for winter break but are unable to pay for it can work with Student Emergency Services,” Garland said.
While Garland explained that there are options in place for students to get help, students themselves should not bear the burden of seeking out help or face uncertainty on whether Student Emergency Services will be able to assist.
With the COVID-19 pandemic slowly improving, many people are finally trying to plan getting home for the holidays, as international travel was prevented for most of last year.
Psychology freshman Aakriti Kamal said since people couldn’t travel to India due to COVID-19, many are trying to go back in December. Due to the high demand, her flight back to India costs more than usual.
“It’s a total of $1,300 going and coming back, but that doesn’t include the price of landing in New York and then traveling to Austin,” Kamal said.
On top of her flights, Kamal has to pay the $105 fee for late stay in the dorms due to her not being able to find an earlier flight at an affordable price.
With all of the fees on top of one another, it would cost about the same for her to leave Austin as it would to stay. Neither option is affordable, leaving her in a tough situation that no college student should have to go through.
The cost of housing and food should not be a concern for students during winter break. The holidays are supposed to be a time of giving, and UHD needs to embody that.
Harrison is a journalism freshman from Dallas, Texas.