For the first time, students will be able to stay in their rooms during spring break.
“Some students don’t have anywhere to go,” said Andi Cailles, director of residential life at IU. “Some students have to stay and work.”
Instead of consolidating students into select residence halls as they have in the past, this academic year Residential Programs and Services began allowing students to stay in their rooms for free during school breaks.
As of the morning of March 7, 1,574 students had registered for spring break housing.
“We think the demand has indicated that it’s a service students appreciate,” Cailles said.
Cailles said many students stay for one or two days at the beginning or end of the break, depending on their travel plans. Previously, students would not have been able to access their rooms once break began.
Freshman Heather Ahmann, a Bloomington resident, signed up for spring break housing just in case she needed anything from her room. She also plans to feed her roommate’s fish.
If students plan to stay on campus for any portion of the break, they must register online through the RPS website.
The registration system allows RPS to track and grant card access exclusively to students staying on campus.
During Thanksgiving break, Cailles said there were several problems with card access when RPS opened all residence halls for the first time. However, she expects spring break to be a smoother transition.
At least one residential assistant will live in each building, Cailles said, and residential staff will be on call for every center, 24 hours a day.
For the academic year, RAs live on every floor of every building, and on-call staff works in the evenings.
Sophomore Madi White, one of three RAs working in McNutt Quad for spring break, said RAs can sign up for 12-hour shifts and don't have to work the entire break.
"It gives us the flexibility to work, but also have a break ourselves," White said.
RAs receive a $80 stipend every two weeks during the academic year, but are paid $50 per break shift.
Cailles advised students to make sure they keep their room doors locked and put the on-duty staff phone numbers, shown on signs throughout each dorm, in their cellphones.
Cailles said RAs typically respond to emergency calls in a few minutes, and staff in five to 10 minutes. She said students should not hesitate to call 911 or an emergency number if they feel unsafe.
Freshman Gabriel Payne, who is staying on campus because the Bloomington community offers them more resources than their hometown, said they expect to feel safer than usual because less people, bikes and cars will be on the streets.
Payne said they are more concerned with the money they might spend on food, given the dining hall’s sparse openings.
“Financially, I just have to be careful and make sure I don’t eat out too much,” Payne said.
Union Street Market will open Tuesday, March 13, and Saturday, March 17, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Rachel Noirot, a registered dietitian for RPS dining services, said in an email that Union Street Market was chosen for its variety of options and easy accessibility.
The Wright Cafe and Convenience store was open on select days during winter break but was difficult for students to navigate because not all doors to the building were unlocked, Noirot said.
White advises students to stock food in advance, because even the bus system will have limited break hours.
The Student Recreational Sports Center will be closed for spring break, but the Wildermuth Intramural Center will be open every day. IU Recreational Sports will offer group exercise classes at the School of Public Health, according to IU Recreational Sports' website.
Payne said the gym facilities influenced their decision to stay on campus.
“It offers me more resources than if I went home,” Payne said.
Cailles said the cost of hiring staff, opening select food and recreational facilities and providing utilities did not hinder RPS from deciding opening the dorms would be a good service for students.
“The cost of those things really pales in comparison to the convenience we are offering students,” Cailles said.
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