Bigger refunds, further cuts to food services as UVic braces for COVID-19
Citing increased difficulty in maintaining on-campus services, UVic has announced that it will now refund students accommodation fees at a proportional rate for those who leave on or before Friday, March 27. These fees are being reimbursed on a pro-rated basis to encourage students to withdraw from residence. However, UVic is not mandating that students leave residence: students are able to request an extension to stay until April 24, but those who choose to leave early are eligible for partial refunds.
Earlier this month, UVic pushed up the default move-out date to March 27 in light of the cancellation of face-to-face instruction for the term. The university initially offered a refund of $450 if students moved out before March 14 as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new refund policy was announced via email on March 20, overriding the previously announced refund rate. A cheque will be mailed to the provided student addresses within the next six to eight weeks.
Further details on the new refunds have not been made official yet, but the flat refund of $200 for those leaving between March 27 and April 9 has remained unchanged.
UVic undergraduates pay between $3 343 and $1 655 per semester for their accommodations on campus. Housing ranges from bunk beds in a modified large single room, single room dormitories, or rooms in townhouses that once housed elite athletes during the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
A partial refund proportionate to services provided — that is, days of housing — would net cluster residents at roughly $29.50 a day, and regular single room dormitory residents at roughly $25 a day, if students decide to hand in their keys before March 27.
We’ve crunched the hypothetical numbers for you: if you’re a single room dorm occupant moving out on the default day (March 27), you’re eligible for a refund for 28 days of services rendered. That’s about $700 in your pocket.
First-year cluster resident Aletta Biemond said that the money was a big factor for her early departure: she plans to depart for her hometown of Chilliwack by March 27 to take advantage of the refund policy. Her three roommates moved out on March 21.
Biemond estimates that more than half of the residents have left.
“It seems like every other [cluster residence] or so all seem like an empty house or dorm,” said Biemond.
For students who choose to stay in residence until April 24, expect changes.
The Student Union Building is closed, and only a single food outlet on campus remains open. Operating on limited hours from 7:30 a.m to 7:30 p.m, Cadboro Commons is the sole source of freshly-cooked food on campus.
In the same email that detailed the updated refund policy, UVic announced that menus will become more limited in Cadboro Commons and that hours of operation will be further reduced starting March 23. UVic Food Services said that they would be maintaining the previous reduced hours of 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. but confirmed that there will not be any offerings from the Grill moving forward.
However, as of March 21, there is no longer a dine-in option at the cafeteria as the seating areas have been blocked off with an improvised blockade of chairs, furniture, and tray-return stations. Students were notified of the closure by signs posted in the cafeteria, which confirmed that the measure is in response to B.C. Premier John Horgan’s announcement prohibiting dine-in services for restaurants after March 20.
Fridges have been installed throughout residences in preparation of the possibility of increased cases of self-isolation in residences. Students are able to have food delivered to their dorms if they wish. Food Services has been providing an order service with a limited meal selection for students who are self-isolating.
In an executive meeting with UVSS Lead Directors, UVic promised to not shut down residences like other universities across North America have done. According to UVSS Director of International Student Relations Efe Türker, international students or students who are currently housed on campus but can’t leave will be accommodated and moved into cluster housing, allowing for access to kitchens and easier self-isolation. Family housing at UVic will not be affected by these changes.
The Martlet has reached out to UVic Residence Services for comment on current developments, but has not received a response at time of publication.
Health officials are encouraging people to wash their hands and consider social distancing, and for anyone exhibiting symptoms to stay home. For more information, please visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website.