Fees to stay in dorms return for students wanting to stay on campus over breaks

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University of Indianapolis students can now expect to pay a fee if they are staying in dorms over breaks, according to the university’s handbook. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a common practice for schools to have students pay an additional fee if they stayed in their building, according to Associate Dean of Judicial Affairs and Residence Life Rob Williford. This meant students were expected to pay a flat fee for each break period, which includes Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks. When the pandemic happened, schools put a hold on this fee and allowed students to stay for free, according to Williford.

Williford has been working at the school since June 2020 and oversees the day-to-day operations of residence life. According to Williford, the last time that students would have seen this fee was before spring 2020. This fee is a flat rate of $60 for Thanksgiving, $200 for winter break and $90 for spring break, which are amounts predetermined before Williford started working at the school. These fees also apply to residence halls only—not the apartment buildings Greyhound Village, College Crossing or the University Lofts, according to the UIndy website. According to Williford, this is because the apartments have a separate 11-month lease. 

Williford said students staying for Spring Term classes for the first time usually will be able to stay for free, but if they are staying for a second class then they will have to pay a daily rate. He said the school noticed most students were staying on campus for fall break because it is not considered an official break and therefore is not charged as such. Since UIndy was unique in that it did not require students to go home when COVID-19 hit during spring break in 2020, Williford said the school decided to waive that fee. Because travel plans continued to be affected by the pandemic, the fee continued to be waived, but the school did still send out forms to gauge how many students were staying. 

In spring 2023, the university determined that all COVID-19 restrictions were going to be lifted, meaning there were no longer any mask requirements, but also that the fee for staying in dorms would be put back into effect as well, Williford said. The purpose of these fees, according to Williford, is to help make sure the buildings can continue to run and operate smoothly and to ensure that workers are getting paid for their time. Along with that, the school also uses these break periods as a time to go in and fix any damage to the buildings as well as preventative maintenance measures.

“From a university standpoint, we still have to keep the lights on, we still have to keep heating going, especially over Thanksgiving and winter break …” Williford said. “And then we still have to pay our staff to be around over the break period.”

Williford said that UIndy does not have strict requirements when it comes to which students are permitted to stay on campus over breaks. There is no minimal amount of distance away a student needs to live to be allowed to stay on campus. All students in the residence halls have the option to stay on campus over breaks, Williford said, students just need to fill out the form that will take all their information and then there is an online marketplace where students can pay the fees. These fees do not apply to in-season athletes, however, Williford said that any students can reach out if they have an extenuating circumstance that would affect their ability to pay the fee and that these appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

“One of the things that you know, our staff is trained to do, is to work with every person that’s in any situation, any situation at all,” Williford said. “So whether you know, they just don’t want to communicate about it, or they’re not able to communicate, we’re gonna try to meet everybody where they’re at, as much as we can.”The academic calendar for UIndy, which includes the dates of breaks, can be found on their website, under the page titled “Academic Calendars.”

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