Some Memorial University students are stressed about the residences’ new 24-hour checkout policy.
After students write their last exam of a semester, they have 24 hours to check out of their residence rooms.
The policy started in September 2014 as an experiment, and this year will be spent evening out any issues or problems the policy might create.
However, there are already students who have run into difficulties with the policy and refuse to abide by it. Students were given flexibility during fall semester 2014, but some have had problems with it this winter semester.
“Memorial University has defended the policy by saying other universities in the country do the same. But this ignores certain aspects, like location,” said Warren Moore, an international student at Memorial University.
“Ultimately, this is a policy that helps staff get rid of students ASAP, but has no benefit to a student whatsoever.”
Moore is concerned about the extra costs and stress the policy might create.
Exam schedules are released two months before the end of a semester — October in the fall and February in the winter — so in order to meet the 24-hour policy, students have to wait until the exam schedule is released before booking flights home, Moore said.
Flight tickets purchased before the semester starts are often much cheaper than those bought once the exam schedule is posted.
“I asked my residence co-ordinator for an extension because of flight scheduling issues and they said I couldn’t get one because it’s not an academic reason,” said Brendon Dixon, another MUN student. “Well, no, it’s a financial reason. The timeline is very quick and not very accommodating.”
According to Bruce Belbin, director of student residences at Memorial University, the 24-hour checkout rule is designed to help deal with the turnover in MUN residences.
The current semester ends April 18 and the university has until April 23 to prepare the residences for the first arrival of summer students and guests who will use the residence facilities.
“In between all that, as you can imagine with 2,000 beds, there’s a ton of things that have to occur, from cleanup to maintenance and so on and so forth,” said Belbin. “That’s the primary driver behind the policy, but I have to emphasize that it is experimental.”
Belbin said students can contact the university if they have issues or concerns, and there is a great deal of flexibility.
“If you booked a flight back home and you didn’t realize, or pay attention to the requirement in the occupancy agreement (for residence living), then we’d be flexible as long as you provided documentation on that or (documentation) for medical or academic reasons,” said Belbin.
“You could be an honours student and working on a paper. Clearly, we’re not going to tell you to leave residence. Or you could be on a work term, in the nursing program, or you could be an international student.”
Students who have meal plans that run until the last day of school can lose out on $100 to $200 worth of food as a result of the policy, according to Moore.
“Students in Paton College and new (residences) are bound to purchase mandatory meal plans that last from Day 1 to the final day of operation on April 18,” Moore said. “Students who don’t have any exams whatsoever are required to be out of residence by April 6 this year, meaning they will lose 12 to 13 days of the meal plan, which is more than 10 per cent of the whole plan.”
Belbin acknowledged there is no reimbursement program for students with meal plans who might be affected by the policy, but said any issues with it can be raised with the university.
“It’s not structured (to work with the meal plan) right now. I’m not aware of any specific requests around meal plan and that issue, but it’s something we can put in our assessment for next year as we move the policy ahead,” said Belbin. “We haven’t received any (specific complaints) about the policy, but we’ll assess the 24-hour rule and if something obvious pops up, we’ll deal with it.”
Special to Telegram