Nerves heighten as on-campus housing renewal period looms

Students hope for flexibility with on-campus living arrangements next school year as COVID-19 presents constant changes

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world a few lessons, one of them being that plans can change quickly. As coronavirus cases within Arizona and ASU continue to rise and curveballs continue to be thrown at students, some worry if they should be preparing to sign another housing lease with the University.

More feelings of uncertainty are emerging as the 2021-22 housing renewal period opens in January. 

For some students, the decision to live on campus this semester was not one made lightly, taking into consideration not only their health, but their personal housing restrictions regardless of the pandemic and the opportunity to have a "normal" college experience as well. 

Jacqueline Salcido, a junior studying biochemistry, currently lives at the Villas at Vista Del Sol and plans to live there next school year. 

"COVID makes me uneasy and returning makes me uneasy to some extent because I know that I am exposing myself," Salcido said.

Unlike many other students, Salcido does not have the option of moving back in with her immediate family, who lives in Mexico. Salcido said although Mexico has fewer coronavirus cases, the virus is difficult to track there compared to in the U.S. 

Therefore, she said, on-campus housing is her only choice and is funded by the Obama Scholars program.

"I think ASU needs to consider personal student situations, because I am not the only one that has been pushed to making this decision," Salcido said.


ASU students walk by the ASU Barrett Honors Complex in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019.

Ben Siamon, a freshman studying marketing who lives in Agave Hall at the Barrett Residential Complex, said making the decision on where to live for the 2021-22 school year is tough.

"I definitely feel weird about having to sign up for housing so soon, especially because this year has been so hard to meet people," Siamon said. "It will be really hard to find a roommate."

Siamon said he hopes the University will be more accommodating than previous years with students who change their minds about their on-campus housing decisions.

According to the 2020-21 Schedule of Charges and Deadlines for non-first year students, students were charged a $300 cancellation fee if they notified the University they wanted to cancel their housing applications between June 1 and June 30 and were charged $500 if they notified the University on or after July 1. 

The University has not released this information for the 2021-22 school year on the University Housing website, so it is unclear whether ASU plans to charge students for cancellations the same way it did this year.

Decreasing or forgiving these fees could ease the tensions many freshmen and their families are currently facing. Siamon said offering students more time to decide if they want to live on-campus or not would be a great alternative as families navigate the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Giving more time is important, especially because the news changes so fast," Siamon said. "People's minds can change so quickly and then change again."

Shannon Aumann, a freshman studying supply chain management who is planning on living at Vista Del Sol for the 2021-22 school year, said she values the safety measures ASU has promised for all on-campus students. 

"I still felt comfortable with the precautions they said they were going to take and definitely have been living up to," Aumann said.

However, Aumann said her health concerns aren't the only thing she is worried about.

"Vista is not the cheapest and knowing that COVID does shut down the pool and the gym that's there," Aumann said. "It's kind of stressful paying extra to live there and not getting the same benefits."

However, among the stress and anxiety surrounding students' housing plans, Salcido is trying to remain hopeful.

"Living on campus is very hard to begin with, and the only option for some people," Salcido said, "but I wouldn’t have the opportunity at a college experience without it, so I’m doing my best to stay in hopeful spirits."


Reach the reporter at kkwilso5@asu.edu and follow @kaceywilson_ on Twitter. 

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