82% of Undergraduate Students Terminate Housing Contracts

CampusCoronavirusNews

Students on library walk.
Arlene Banuelos/The Triton

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82% of undergraduates and 6% of graduate students living on campus have terminated their housing contracts by the March 29 deadline, according to UC San Diego Associate Director of Communications Leslie Sepuka. There were 11,687 undergraduates and 3,531 graduate students housed on campus at the start of the 2019–20 school year.

UCSD Housing Dining Hospitality (HDH) and Chancellor Pradeep Khosla urged students to move out of on-campus housing as a part of emergency measures to decrease the number of people on campus and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Contract terminations for Spring Quarter 2020 prior to March 29 will result in a prorated housing refund.

According to the campus notice, only students who fulfill the following criteria should remain on campus: those without stable housing or are from food-insecure households, are unable to travel home due to safety concerns, or lack accommodations for virtual instruction.

The push to reduce campus population density has brought increasing uncertainty to many students who are planning to move home as well as those who will be staying on campus for the spring.

“It’s been really hard,” said Kayla Monnette, a second-year Cognitive Science Machine Learning major in Eleanor Roosevelt College. Monnette said that she is fearful about getting her family sick. “This is my only residence, there isn’t a place for me at my parents’ home. My parents live in a small residence. If I stayed on the couch at home, it would be hard to do my studies. I wouldn’t even be able to come home because my brother is immunocompromised.”

The remaining on-campus residents will be relocated to single rooms within their respective college housing to maintain social distancing. Redistribution to different housing spaces will not alter a student’s original housing contract or fees.

Monnette further explained her frustrations regarding HDH’s transparency: “[The] [n]ew directive is good, but I don’t feel comfortable being stranded completely by myself. I do not feel safe; my roommate was going to come back just to live with me, so I wouldn’t be alone, but now she has to cancel her contract since she wouldn’t be able to live with me anyways.”

HDH, in accordance with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive stay-at-home order, shut down services deemed nonessential and has implemented several initiatives to further limit student gathering, while continuing to provide services to students still living on campus. These services include: having all food served in to-go containers, the removal of all seating availability in dining halls, and providing pre-packaged/ready-to-serve food on hand to minimize time spent waiting and emphasize social distancing.

On March 29, Chancellor Khosla sent out a campus-wide notice asking campus residents returning from New York, New Jersey and Louisiana, states with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel advisories, or in Louisiana’s case, the second highest per-capita death toll, to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation will only be done in completely vacant housing units with HDH providing meals via delivery service.

A vacant UCSD campus dorm will also be used to house patients, in an effort to ease the effects of an expected increase of COVID-19 patients at local hospitals. The goal is to take in patients that are too sick to return home, but no longer need to remain in the hospital, though the number of patients and the specific location have yet to be confirmed.

Two students, who were in close contact with one another, tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently in isolation receiving care, according to the Triton Alerts sent out. It is not verifiable at this time where on campus these students are housed. More information regarding the notices can be found here.

Sahana Narayan is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow her @saharadesert00. Outgoing Managing Editor Ethan Edward Coston contributed to the research and reporting for this article. You can follow him @Ethan4Books.