Spring into new housing changes

Graphic by Isabelle Villegas | Mercury Staff

University Housing is facing extensive procedural changes to the housing process as more students decide to move back on campus for the spring semester.

The housing application for the official move-in process usually opens only once a year: the spring semester prior to the school year applicants are signing up for. This year, Director of Housing Operations Matthew Grief said that Housing is letting students move in during the middle of the year to allow for students who deferred housing in the fall to come to campus.

“Our plan is to get assignments out for incoming freshmen who will be residing on campus during the spring semester first; there’s a few hundred of those that are coming back that did not live on campus this fall and will be moving on campus for the spring semester,” Grief said. “Then, we’re putting plans in place for a general spring move-in because we know we’re going to have a significant number of students who are not on campus previously. So we’re going to have to work through the move-in process for the spring semester, which is a little different than what a normal semester brings.”

A typical fall semester usually entails a renewal process in November for students who live in apartments on campus. They can renew their housing for the next school year to guarantee that they get the same unit as before. This allows housing staff time to prepare for the signup period that usually takes place in February. This year, renewal is not the main priority.

“Because of the challenges of this semester and the number of students who are not living on campus, some of the things that normally taking place in the fall, we’re pushing to the spring,” Grief said. “We still wanted to make sure to give students who would be on campus in the spring every opportunity to renew for the fall of 2021, but all of our renewal events that usually take place in November will not be taking place until January or February of next year.”

Currently, staff is working on identifying which students are coming back for certain. Staff has been following up with students who chose to defer their housing to spring to determine whether their plans remain the same. Grief said that University Housing notified everyone several weeks in advance that they would be allowed to cancel spring housing without penalty by the Nov. 1 deadline.

“There are extenuating circumstances [for] the student: maybe they didn’t find out exactly what courses they were going to be taking, maybe they had some medical issues, maybe they had some family circumstances that have changed their mind and they need to be home,” Grief said. “We’ll work with those students individually on a case by case basis if necessary. But right now, we’re trying to filter through all those students who said they’re not coming back and then, of course, those who are.”

Parts of the planning are still in the works in terms of getting concrete numbers for how many students will be coming back – and, subsequently, how many beds are available. Grief said that staff has been working to try to get information from students.

“Looks like around 400 or so apartment students would be coming back who really previously said they were going to defer for the spring semester, but that number changes daily,” Grief said. “The past week was rough. As you know, we get cancellations in and people changing their mind and they want to come back so we’ll continue to adjust that number.”

Procedures have also been put in place for how housing will proceed with pandemic guidelines following the influx of students in the spring.

“It’ll be similar to the fall,” Grief said. “We have 110 beds set aside for isolation quarantine. What we’re finding this fall – with the number of students that we’ve had to deal with and relocate – [is that] we never used more than 25% of those units. So, I think we have space.”

Grief said that this upcoming semester, housing is hoping to open more events for students and more opportunities that weren’t possible this fall semester.

“I just think it has just been a challenge for our students and our staff who work with the students closely to kind of provide the same quality of living experience without the events and programs we held,” Grief said. “We certainly hope that we’ll get some more folks involved in the spring semester and get them out of their rooms. We want to give them that opportunity to have the interaction with other students.”