With Spring Break less than two weeks away, campus is filled with rumblings between students discussing their plans for how they will spend their time off from March 2-10.

Some students can be heard expressing excitement to go home and unwind from the first half of the semester, while others have made plans to escape the cold weather and go on a trip with their fellow Stags.

However, some students– such as student-athletes, international students or those who are completing an internship near Fairfield– have found themselves under circumstances that require them to stay on campus during the week-long break. 

In an email sent out to students on Feb. 9, the Office of Residence Life relayed the routine procedure students are required to follow to close their rooms as they leave for break. This includes locking all windows, unplugging everything except for fridges and leaving the heat on low.

Included at the bottom of the email is an application for students who find themselves needing to stay on campus following the official residence hall closing on Friday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m. The email states: “Housing will be provided only for students with special needs to remain on campus. Any student who feels they have a special need to remain on campus will need to submit their request through ‘The Housing Director’ by Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024 by 4:30 p.m.” 

The email goes on to detail that students who are approved to stay are required to pay a daily fee of $75 in advance of their stay by Feb. 27. Those who pay the fee late are subject to a $50 per day late fee.

The notice directly addresses in-season athletes and international students by urging them to request permission to stay, but calls out those who are completing internships by stating “Permission will not be given to students because of their need to pursue outside employment over the break.”

Many students have expressed frustration with this policy, especially since those who need to stay on-campus throughout the whole break could be subject to a fee of around $600 if it is not waived. In comparison, the weekly rate for Fairfield’s summer housing for a private bedroom sits at just $340. 

When asked why the University charges this fee, Meredith Smith, Assistant Vice President and Director of Residence Life, remarked “Break and early arrival periods are not included in student’s housing costs as the services and staffing are limited during these periods. The University charges a nightly fee to recoup some of the costs of services and staffing during this timeframe. The $75 price point is an average amount among the daily housing rate.”

In special cases, some students are eligible to get the fee waived. However, others, such as Lucille Fowler ’25, have been met with resistance when attempting to get the fee waived, even for a day. 

“I think it’s unfair – ResLife waives the fee for students who travel from a distance they deem far and request to come back a day or two early. However, even though I live six hours away, the University has been reluctant to cover my housing fee. That translates into a twelve-hour day in the car for my parents when they drive me back. In comparison, other students who hop on a two-hour flight and come back a day early are eligible to get their fee waived, yet I have to pay because I’m coming from the Northeast area.”

Smith does stress that the $75 fee is “typically waived for students participating in approved University sponsored events. This process requires verification via a written request from the sponsoring department, office or advisor.”

If students find themselves in a situation where they cannot afford the Spring Break housing fee, they are encouraged to reach out to Clinesha Johnson, who oversees the Student Assistance Fund in the Office of the Dean of Students. In the meantime, students who are working paid internships and “non-academic jobs” are advised to plan ahead for the cost of staying for break.

The cost of staying over Spring Break holds significance to a notable amount of students on-campus, as the Office of Residence Life cites that about 300 to 400 students stay at Fairfield during Spring Break to participate in a range of activities from service immersion trips to departmental research to athletic events. Any students who have questions or concerns about the Vacation Housing Policy are instructed to contact their Area Coordinator or Graduate Residence Coordinator. The Office of Residence Life can also be reached at residencelife@fairfield.edu.

About The Author

Junior | Assistant News Editor | Finance/Economics Major | Digital Journalism Minor

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