UC Davis sees increase in cancellations of housing and dining contracts

UC Davis sees increase in cancellations of housing and dining contracts

Photo Credits: AGGIE FILE

COVID-19 prompts cancellations, impacting students and university

The cancellation deadline for the residence halls has been extended to Aug. 30. For returning and transfer students living in apartment housing, the cancellation deadline has been moved to Aug. 23. 

“This extension will allow students and their families to make a more informed decision,” said Mike Sheehan, associate vice chancellor for Student Housing, Dining and Divisional Operations, via email. 

To initiate the cancellation process, students must turn to the myHousing Portal on myUCDavis

“Once cancellation is initiated, prior to the cancellation deadline, and finalized, the appropriate refund will be posted to their UC Davis student account,” Sheehan said. 

Nandini Sharma, a first-year chemical engineering major, said the process was “pretty simple,” upon cancelling her contract in June.

“It was a click of a button [to] cancel,” Sharma said. “A couple of days later I had a negative sum on myBill. But they kept changing the deadline for the cancellation of housing.” 

When deciding whether or not to cancel housing and dining contracts with the university, Sheehan said he advises students and families to “take into consideration the multiple dynamics that might be impacting them.” 

“I encourage them to consider important variables when making the decision, which could include academic schedule, financial aid, housing insecurity, personal/family health and overall expectations of experience,” Sheehan said.

Student experience, remote learning and coronavirus concerns influenced many students’ decision to either cancel or continue their contracts. 

Alyssa Miro, a second-year student who is currently undeclared, decided not to cancel her contract.

“I really enjoyed living on/close to campus and I’m hoping that I’ll get to continue with that opportunity this year,” Miro said, via Facebook Messenger.

On the other hand, Cristina Avelar, a first-year student majoring in Chicana/Chicano studies, cancelled her contract. 

“I made the decision to cancel my contract because there is really no point to be on campus for me if all classes are going to be remote,” Avelar said. “It just really wasn’t worth the extra cost to move there. It’s not at all what we planned, like most people, but in the end I think it was the best choice for me financially and logistically.” 

Similarly, Sharma said that remote learning influenced her decision to stay in Qatar. 

“California doesn’t seem to be doing too well with [the] coronavirus,” Sharma said. “Also, all my classes are online, even my lab, so I didn’t really see a point being on campus. It’s not like I would get a lot of the normal, conventional freshman year experience as well.” 

Sheehan said that strategies being developed to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the dorms include increased sanitization, education, accountability, daily symptom monitoring, testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. These directives were created through a collaboration between UC Davis, Yolo County Health and experts in the medical and public health field. 

If the campus becomes fully functional starting Winter Quarter, both Sharma and Avelar said they would be open to moving to Davis. 

“Winter and spring housing options will be dependent upon the level of COVID-19 infection,” Sheehan said. “Significant changes in the infection rate, treatment options and possible vaccine options will inform what happens in the winter and spring quarters.”

As of now, however, Sheehan said that it is difficult to predict how many students will choose to continue their contracts with UC Davis Housing and Dining Services. 

“We are seeing an increase in cancellations as our county and state continue to see an elevated number of COVID-19 cases,” Sheehan said. 

According to the UC Davis website, as of Aug. 15, 42 employees and 18 students have tested positive for COVID-19. Looking at Yolo County at large, there have been a total of 1,966 cases and 46 county-wide deaths as of Aug. 14, according to the coronavirus dashboards on Yolo County’s website

On Aug. 6, UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services sent out an email stating that “a very significant number of students cancelling housing contracts,” would reduce the number of Community Advisor (CA) and After Hours Assistant (AHA) positions by approximately 50 percent. 

According to the 2020-2021 CA job description, community advisors are responsible for creating a “positive community environment.” 

AHAs provide after-hour on-site assistance related to facilities, respond to after-hour community needs, and staff area service desks typically from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., according to the 2020-2021 AHA job description. 

Students were given the option to voluntarily withdraw from their position, according to the email. If not, offers would be rescinded based on responses to a survey students were encouraged to complete.

When Laura Yang, an incoming community advisor for the student housing apartments, received the email, she said she was excited to get an update about where she was going to be living next year. 

           But she said she read the email multiple times after opening it. 

“In that email, I didn’t really understand how to process it,” Yang said. “First of all, I was like, ‘This is really inconvenient.’ I really think they should have communicated to us better what they were doing.” 

In response to this email, Yang started a petition on Change.org. 

“The overarching goal of my petition was to get more awareness because compared to the whole student body, there are not a lot of RAs,” Yang said. “[I wanted to] get more people to know what’s going on. I also wanted student housing specifically to give us options, not just rescind our offers. The first email that was sent out was really alarming, considering how vague and how little detail there was in it.” 

Since it was posted, Yang’s petition has garnered 2,802 signatures and over 3,000 shares as of Aug. 15. 

“When I sent out the petition, I honestly was expecting two to three hundred signatures,” Yang said. “I did not expect this to get this big. I was really trying to build support for it. It really felt good because a lot of people were reaching out to me.” 

On Aug. 7, Director of the Office of Student Development Branden M. Petitt sent a follow-up email apologizing for “the confusion and worry that [Student Housing and Dining Services’] communication has caused.” 

Approximately 20% of the CA and AHA staff had already resigned, according to the email sent out by Petitt. 

“I sympathize a lot with the stuff that’s going on because it’s a really big institution,” Yang said. “There’s a lot of stuff you need to figure out.” 

Yang said that she plans on continuing her position as part of the CA staff. 

“A big reason why I wanted to be a CA, especially an apartment CA, was because […] a lot of my friends who transferred from back home […] would talk about how behind they felt, and how isolating it was, because you don’t get that dorm experience as a transfer,” she said. “I completely understand what it’s like to feel isolated and have anxiety, because it’s a really big transition. I really want to be there for the transfers.” 

In terms of next steps, Petitt said in the email that “a number of factors […] are still evolving” and that “even without concrete plans,” they still plan on providing students with “update, solicit information.” 

Sheehan said that UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services have been maintaining communication with students via email and their website, which is being updated regularly as changes occur. Moreover, they have been sending a “COVID-19 focused Aggie Reader.” 

“We are sensitive to the impact COVID-19 has on students and families as they make housing decisions they feel best support their educational pursuits,” Sheehan said. “We have and will continue to communicate updates and work with families to support their housing decisions.” 

“This extension will allow students and their families to make a more informed decision,” said Mike Sheehan, associate vice chancellor for Student Housing, Dining and Divisional Operations, via email. 

To initiate the cancellation process, students must turn to the myHousing Portal on myUCDavis

“Once cancellation is initiated, prior to the cancellation deadline, and finalized, the appropriate refund will be posted to their UC Davis student account,” Sheehan said. 

Nandini Sharma, a first-year chemical engineering major, said the process was “pretty simple,” upon cancelling her contract in June.

“It was a click of a button [to] cancel,” Sharma said. “A couple of days later I had a negative sum on myBill. But they kept changing the deadline for the cancellation of housing.” 

When deciding whether or not to cancel housing and dining contracts with the university, Sheehan said he advises students and families to “take into consideration the multiple dynamics that might be impacting them.” 

“I encourage them to consider important variables when making the decision, which could include academic schedule, financial aid, housing insecurity, personal/family health and overall expectations of experience,” Sheehan said.

Student experience, remote learning and coronavirus concerns influenced many students’ decision to either cancel or continue their contracts. 

Alyssa Miro, a second-year student who is currently undeclared, decided not to cancel her contract.

“I really enjoyed living on/close to campus and I’m hoping that I’ll get to continue with that opportunity this year,” Miro said, via Facebook Messenger.

On the other hand, Cristina Avelar, a first-year student majoring in Chicana/Chicano studies, cancelled her contract. 

“I made the decision to cancel my contract because there is really no point to be on campus for me if all classes are going to be remote,” Avelar said. “It just really wasn’t worth the extra cost to move there. It’s not at all what we planned, like most people, but in the end I think it was the best choice for me financially and logistically.” 

Similarly, Sharma said that remote learning influenced her decision to stay in Qatar. 

“California doesn’t seem to be doing too well with [the] coronavirus,” Sharma said. “Also, all my classes are online, even my lab, so I didn’t really see a point being on campus. It’s not like I would get a lot of the normal, conventional freshman year experience as well.” 

Sheehan said that strategies being developed to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the dorms include increased sanitization, education, accountability, daily symptom monitoring, testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. These directives were created through a collaboration between UC Davis, Yolo County Health and experts in the medical and public health field. 

If the campus becomes fully functional starting Winter Quarter, both Sharma and Avelar said they would be open to moving to Davis. 

“Winter and spring housing options will be dependent upon the level of COVID-19 infection,” Sheehan said. “Significant changes in the infection rate, treatment options and possible vaccine options will inform what happens in the winter and spring quarters.”

As of now, however, Sheehan said that it is difficult to predict how many students will choose to continue their contracts with UC Davis Housing and Dining Services. 

“We are seeing an increase in cancellations as our county and state continue to see an elevated number of COVID-19 cases,” Sheehan said. 

According to the UC Davis website, as of Aug. 15, 42 employees and 18 students have tested positive for COVID-19. Looking at Yolo County at large, there have been a total of 1,966 cases and 46 county-wide deaths as of Aug. 14, according to the coronavirus dashboards on Yolo County’s website

On Aug. 6, UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services sent out an email stating that “a very significant number of students cancelling housing contracts,” would reduce the number of Community Advisor (CA) and After Hours Assistant (AHA) positions by approximately 50 percent. 

According to the 2020-2021 CA job description, community advisors are responsible for creating a “positive community environment.” 

AHAs provide after-hour on-site assistance related to facilities, respond to after-hour community needs, and staff area service desks typically from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., according to the 2020-2021 AHA job description. 

Students were given the option to voluntarily withdraw from their position, according to the email. If not, offers would be rescinded based on responses to a survey students were encouraged to complete.

When Laura Yang, an incoming community advisor for the student housing apartments, received the email, she said she was excited to get an update about where she was going to be living next year. But she said she read the email multiple times after opening it.

“In that email, I didn’t really understand how to process it,” Yang said. “First of all, I was like, ‘This is really inconvenient.’ I really think they should have communicated to us better what they were doing.” 

In response to this email, Yang started a petition on Change.org. 

“The overarching goal of my petition was to get more awareness because compared to the whole student body, there are not a lot of RAs,” Yang said. “[I wanted to] get more people to know what’s going on. I also wanted student housing specifically to give us options, not just rescind our offers. The first email that was sent out was really alarming, considering how vague and how little detail there was in it.” 

Since it was posted, Yang’s petition has garnered 2,802 signatures and over 3,000 shares as of Aug. 15. 

“When I sent out the petition, I honestly was expecting two to three hundred signatures,” Yang said. “I did not expect this to get this big. I was really trying to build support for it. It really felt good because a lot of people were reaching out to me.” 

On Aug. 7, Director of the Office of Student Development Branden M. Petitt sent a follow-up email apologizing for “the confusion and worry that [Student Housing and Dining Services’] communication has caused.” 

Approximately 20% of the CA and AHA staff had already resigned, according to the email sent out by Petitt. 

“I sympathize a lot with the stuff that’s going on because it’s a really big institution,” Yang said. “There’s a lot of stuff you need to figure out.” 

Yang said that she plans on continuing her position as part of the CA staff. 

“A big reason why I wanted to be a CA, especially an apartment CA, was because […] a lot of my friends who transferred from back home […] would talk about how behind they felt, and how isolating it was, because you don’t get that dorm experience as a transfer,” she said. “I completely understand what it’s like to feel isolated and have anxiety, because it’s a really big transition. I really want to be there for the transfers.” 

In terms of next steps, Petitt said in the email that “a number of factors […] are still evolving” and that “even without concrete plans,” they still plan on providing students with “update, solicit information.” 

Sheehan said that UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services have been maintaining communication with students via email and their website, which is being updated regularly as changes occur. Moreover, they have been sending a “COVID-19 focused Aggie Reader.” 

“We are sensitive to the impact COVID-19 has on students and families as they make housing decisions they feel best support their educational pursuits,” Sheehan said. “We have and will continue to communicate updates and work with families to support their housing decisions.” 

Written by: Aarya Gupta — campus@theaggie.org