International undergrads face uncertainty with 7-week winter break

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International undergraduate students currently in on-campus housing are unsure about their winter break plans. Some have yet to decide how and where to spend the seven-week winter break that begins on Nov. 21. 

Many are waiting to hear about potential on-campus winter break housing, including cost, financial aid availability and general logistical details. Student Affairs spokesperson Pat Lopes Harris wrote in a statement to The Daily that the University is currently “working on plans for winter break” and that more information will be available “shortly.” She did not comment on whether students currently living on campus would be allowed to stay for the seven-week break or provide any specifics to The Daily.

The Faculty Senate Steering Committee voted in June to begin fall quarter one week early and end undergraduate classes before Thanksgiving to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, especially in light of the potential for a winter resurgence. The committee decided that “students in residence” would be expected to leave campus for the winter break. In July, the committee approved the 2020-21 academic calendar dates, including winter quarter’s beginning one week later, on Jan. 11.

The undergraduate housing contract dates listed by Residential and Dining (RD&E) state that the standard move-out for fall quarter date is Nov. 22. The contract currently dictates that students may not return to housing until winter quarter move-in. The move-in date is yet to be determined.

Students are traditionally not allowed to remain on campus during winter break. The RD&E website notes that undergraduate residences will close for “security reasons” and shut down heating systems. As of Oct. 5, the website also notes that winter break housing “will be available in one location” and that dining halls will be closed.

More information on winter break housing will be provided by the administration this week, according to the Week 3 Re-Approaching Stanford email. For now, some international students struggle to plan for the weeks ahead.

“Are they going to kick us out for the winter break?” asked Burcu Gulsah Alici ’23, who is originally from Turkey and is currently residing in Escondido Village Graduate Residences (EVGR). “Can we still live here?” 

Alici considered moving back to Turkey toward the end of spring quarter when “things got a lot more serious” on campus. Returning to her home country, however, was not a feasible option.

“I was scared that I would basically put my family in danger,” Alici said.

She remained on campus for the spring and summer quarters. The time difference played a significant role in her decision-making, so she applied and was accepted to live in EVGR for the fall quarter.

While Alici has not decided on her plans for winter break, she would like to go back home. It will have been a year since she last saw family and friends in Turkey, but she wants to return only if traveling is safe and she “wouldn’t put anyone in danger.”

Ryan Yu ’23, from Liaoyang, China, spent spring quarter on campus, lived off campus with their friends for summer, and returned to campus on Sept. 9.

They are similarly undecided about their winter break plans but would rather stay on campus due to logistical reasons and quarantine considerations. “I’m not like planning ahead that much,” they shared, “since, you really don’t know.”

Darryl Thompson ’23, from Ghana, is also uncertain. 

“It would be great if the University is able to be forthcoming with some information,” he said.

While he believes that the University is “doing a good job,” Thompson acknowledges that there is room for improvement.

Receiving more information from the University “would better inform decisions that international students like myself would be making pertaining to housing for the winter break,” he added.

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Anna Milstein ’23 is a News Writer for The Daily from Tokyo, Japan. Contact her at annamil ‘at’ stanford.edu.