The sweet relief of finishing classes, loading up the car and driving home for the holidays is something many college students look forward to at the end of every fall semester. The only thing that keeps them sane during finals is the thoughts of their parents’ cooking and their childhood bed.
For some students though, these thoughts are far from reality as they have to stay local for the holiday season.
During the course of Sonoma State University’s five-week-long winter break, on-campus housing is closed for the first two weeks. This means that 24 hours after your last final, students need to pack up what they can and leave their home.
Those students who work during the break because of holiday demand - or have no family to go home to - are left without housing for two weeks.
This year students cannot access their dorms from Dec. 17 through Jan. 3. This puts tremendous pressure on students to find other means of housing. Even when they can manage to scrape up a place to live, the costs are an even greater financial burden. It’s comforting to know Sonoma State doesn’t charge students an additional cost for staying Jan. 3 until classes begin, but there has to be more resources available to help students find housing while the campus is closed.
University policies around the country vary on how they deal with winter housing.
For example, Purdue University charges students $330 to stay during winter break, while the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers winter break accommodations but asks for $40 per night.
With the charges of a double-occupancy room being relatively high at Sonoma State, it makes sense as to why they don’t charge an additional fee the last three weeks of break.
However, those students who don’t have a place to go starting Dec. 17 should be offered housing options.
Yes, it’s reasonable to assume that there will be charges assessed based on the costs of utilities and housing fees, but most students would be able to budget it because of the urgency.
The other thing to think about is safety. Staying in the dorms alone without CSAs or housing faculty causes concern. In order to help this, Sonoma State can compensate faculty to monitor students while the dorms are closed.
It can be extremely isolating to see the rest of your peers go home to see family and friends, while work or personal situations keep you in town.
It’s also worth noting that a good portion of Sonoma State’s staff are students, so it’s reasonable that The Kitchens, the campus’s main dining venue, is closed. However, if the dorms were open all of winter break, it’s safe to assume students could manage to buy their own groceries.
Sonoma State has some of the top ranking dorms in the country. It doesn’t seem fair that winter break drives students away from living in a place they pay so much for already.
Linking students with affordable housing, opening designated dorms or having outreach for those students staying locally, would help those who have no where to go, find a place to stay for the holidays.