Opinions

Students are kicked out from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3 Photo: Rhea Verma.

U of O kicking students out over the winter break isn’t very festive

It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year. It’s too cold to walk more than three blocks without risking hypothermia, the roads are so covered in slush that you have to change your socks every time life forces you to leave the comfort of your room, and the sun sets just a little bit after most students have their first meal.

On top of this, late December offers a much needed and half-deserved break from the stress of procrastinating from exam studying. Most students get (or have) to go home, fill our faces with eggnog, and awkwardly run into old high school friends we haven’t talked to in years.

However necessary the late December break is to maintaining partial brain capacity for the next semester, there is a considerable downside to it. Most of the U of O residences shut down over the winter break, and everyone who lives in one has to get out.

But shouldn’t students be able to stay in their own units over the winter break if they so choose?

Closing the residences over the break is actually a huge problem for lots of students. Short-term accommodations are provided by the university, but having to move all of your stuff to a new place for only three weeks, so that the university can inspect your unit, seems unnecessary.

Moreover, and most obviously, the University of Ottawa is a very diverse place, and as such the cultural festivities celebrated by one student might not be the same as their neighbour. Not everyone has a festive winter celebration to attend, and not everyone is in a great place with their families.

Obviously, not every student goes home for the winter break. Some students live in remote places. International students have to scramble to find flights home that they may not be able to afford, to accommodate holidays that they may not celebrate. Being kicked out of your apartment while your family lives overseas is a nightmare scenario, the only alternatives (getting a hotel room, or living in short-term accommodation provided by the university at unreasonable costs) would mean spending money while not having access to 95% of your stuff as it stays in residence.

An alternative to kicking out all students from res would be to open an online portal wherein students can disclose whether they’ll be staying or not. If they will be staying, then the university will then be able to schedule a day to clean/inspect their unit, instead of arranging short-term accommodations for students in other buildings.

The University doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to being empathetic to students in residence. At the start of the summer break, the university gives students the boot on April 27th at the latest, but most apartment leases don’t start until May. With many students saying leases should be extended to May 1. For students who were planning to live in Ottawa over the summer, an extra 3-4 days would mean the world.

There’s a plethora of reasons one may want to stay away from home over the winter break, and the university should acknowledge this by letting students stay in their own units. Students who wish to stay over the break should be able to notify the university and be accommodated, without being forcibly moved to short-term accomodations.