Winter break closure necessary but inconvenient for some

Campus is closing from Dec. 21 to Jan. 18 for winter break. Every year the campus closes at the end of fall semester to prepare for the start of the new semester in the spring.
During this time students get to take an extended break from studies, faculty and staff get time away from work and the campus can make necessary improvements before re-opening.
There are many reasons that the campus closes for Winter Break outside of the transition from fall to spring semester. For a few weeks the campus will completely power down, turning off electricity and heat to the buildings.
During this time the campus will be conserving energy and saving money on the cost of running the entire grounds. Students and staff are not permitted to be around for this portion of the school year because the living and work places are no longer inhabitable without proper heating and functionality.
Some students find no problem with this occurrence.
“I think that the school should shut down for winter break—it’s like every other school. I would be concerned for the workers, but I think it’s beneficial for all students,” sophomore Samantha Coates said.
Closing campus involves most of the full-time personnel leaving for the designated weeks. There is only a handful of staff attending to the maintenance of campus during the break.
If students had wanted to stay on campus during this time there would be limited persons around to provide management and respond in case of an emergency.
For this reason the campus chooses not to engage in the liability of having students around during the break.
Having students or staff around without the proper amount of personnel on campus can also lead to potential breaches in security. It would be more risky to have people in residences while all the other student belongings are still inside of rooms and stored around campus.
Since students are not required to move completely for the winter, these leftover possessions need to be maintained with some measure of security.
“There’s not a whole lot that the school can do about it,” sophomore Kimberly Webber said.
Security is a primary reason that the campus does not sustain people on the premises during the break.
The University wants to ensure that all who are residing on campus have a safe environment and access to resources in case of an emergency. Since there are not enough security officers to go around during the time period, the better option becomes not permitting students to stay for the break.
Outside of the cost, liability and security, campus closes to allow those who devote most of their time and attention to the University a moment to rest and rejuvenate.
“Everyone deserves a break,” Director of Residence Life Shane Daetwiler explained. Even those who work in Dining and Conference Services are able to take a break and enjoy their families and friends.
Despite the valid reasons behind shutting down the campus, there are some students who do not have a place to return home to at the end of the semester.
These students may not be able to afford flying internationally to return home, or may have other extenuating circumstances preventing them from acquiring proper accommodations for the break.
Although these instances are noted at a smaller scale than the reasons for students to leave during break, there are still a number of students who are disadvantaged during the time campus is closed and have to find a way around it. Usually these circumstances are not heard across campus, but they are present and real issues for some in the student body.
There are avenues to alleviate these problems on an individual basis.
“Whenever I hear anything from a student, I’m willing to look into it and explore it,” Daetwiler said.
Students can always seek support through Residence Life or Student Affairs and look for tailored solutions to their problems as they arise.
In order for a change to take place with the way Winter Break is handled on Puget Sound’s campus, it will take a mass amount of student interest.
Policies have been in place before to allow some temporary living accommodations during break, but were revoked due to lack of use.
For students who have real needs, or would like to see the campus create and maintain another option for students to stay throughout the breaks, staff are waiting to see the initiative in the student body.