As spring break approaches, students scramble to finalize their plans for the upcoming week off. However, most resident students, particularly international ones, find themselves in an inconvenient and expensive predicament.
During the holiday, resident and international students that opt to stay on campus are faced with a $200 fee for the duration of the break–the amount calculated as equivalent to daily room charges during academic time.
According to the Office of Residence Life, any student staying for academic purposes, will not be billed for days in which they have class.
For most students who live on campus returning home is far from being an inconvenience.
For international students returning home to avoid the cost of staying on campus proves to be a difficult, expensive and sometimes impossible task.
Take for example an international student from Rome, Italy. The cost of a round-trip ticket would most likely be about $1,500 to $2,000. For most college students who already pay $4,000 for dorms, that kind of money is very difficult to come by.
“That doesn’t mean that I can pay the $200 either,” says Melissa DeLuca, an international student from Italy. “I already pay so much to attend and dorm at this school, why should I have to pay more?”
Kris Sannemalm, an international student from Bermuda who will be staying on campus said, “I’m staying during the break because it’s much easier for me to work. Most of my friends find it difficult to go back home for spring break. St. John’s should be a bit more considerate to international students. There should be more programs to help international students cope during the break. “
Henry Humphreys, dean of Residence Life said that international students were advised of the charge when they signed their housing contracts in August.
Not only are costs an issue, but some international students find it rather difficult to return home during the week off. Packing and un-packing luggage and dealing with long flights are not issues that these students want to deal with during a time when mid-terms are approaching and professors are getting more involved in their course work.
Guests are not allowed in the residence halls during spring break. Many students find this policy unfair because spring break is a time for relaxation and a chance to get away from the stress of school.
William Lee, a sophomore resident student, agrees, “most of my friends are off during this time also. Some of my high school friends are coming back home for the week and I would love to show them my dorm. With this policy, that is going to be impossible.”
Humphreys said that he has not received many complaints about residents being charged over spring break since most students go on vacation and there is economic consideration being given to those who are having difficulty paying the fee.
Some students express concern that the dorms will be empty during the holiday.
“Even though I wanted to stay during the break, I’m a little worried that the dorms will be so lonely. Most of my friends are leaving and the campus will be very dead,” says Kelly Ramnarine.
International students said that there should be more activities geared toward those who find themselves on campus during the break.
According to Humphreys, desk attendants will remain in the halls, resident assistants will be hired to stay the extra week and building administrators will also remain.
Two of St. John’s leading student magazines have fallen on hard times this semester, after their budgets were slashed by Student Government, Inc.
Sequoya is the campus literary magazine and Spectator is the satirical humor magazine.
“Spectator is an important outlet for students, even those who do not write for the publication, because it is satire that they can relate to,” said Mike O’Shea, current managing editor of the magazine.
At the beginning of the semester each publication received notice that its budget would be cut since they were not able to publish a set amount of issues the previous semester.
“The money was specifically allotted for printing,” said Student Government Inc. treasurer Caragh De Luca. “Since they did not meet their proposals of printing a certain amount of issues, the funding was taken away.”
According to Sequoya officials, there were numerous reasons behind not being able to print the issues.
“We are working with an entirely new E-board,” said junior Kathleen Melville, editor-in-chief of the magazine. “We had permission from our adviser to put the first issue out in January. We were planning to print two issues in the spring semester, but now that is [impossible] since the budget has been cut.”
In November, Student Government cut the Spectator budget by $2,600, which is the equivalent of one issue.
If it loses another $2,000, which is the suggested cut, Spectator will be able to publish three issues only instead of four this semester.
Sequoya also suffered a previous cut around the same time.
Sequoya required $6,000 to print the first issue but now the entire budget has been lowered by half–a total of $6,000.
De Luca, however, said it would not be realistic to print two issues in the spring.
“It is very difficult to print two issues in one semester, and the spring semester leaves us with only three months and still two breaks. If they print their first issue very soon, it can be discussed. However, it does not seem feasible.”
The entire Sequoya publication was in the process of being revamped, which made it extremely difficult for it to print on time.
Heidi Chiu, the adviser for both magazines said, “since there was a new E-board and everything had to be learned again, I told them it would be all right to print in January.
“I did not know that Student Government would cut their budget. This is the first time this has happened. It is also the first time the publications have not been able to print.”
Melville said it was unfair of Student Government to cut their budget. “It was something we were not told about and they had no compassion for the new E-board. Everything took more time since we were new and had to spend extra time learning and trying to make the magazine better.”
Spectator also has a proposed budget cut because it was unable to print on time. However, the circumstances the magazine was dealing with were not taken into consideration.
“We were not able to publish early in the year due to the tragedies of Sept. 11. After that, administration had requested that we not publish due to [content issues in the past],” said O’Shea.
“We were never officially on any type of probation, but we respected their decision and were not able to publish as many issues last semester.”
“At the October Congress, the Dean of Students had a concern with the direction that the magazine was going in,” said Mary Pelkowski, head of Student Life. “But, there was never a definite hold on the magazine.”
According to O’Shea the staff had “two meetings set up with Mary Pelkowski and the head of Student Affairs Dean [Jose] Rodriguez. Both were cancelled ten minutes before the start of each meeting.”
Pelkowski said that “there was one meeting and the other was cancelled because the Dean had an emergency.”
This budget cut would be the second one faced by Spectator this year.
De Luca, in Student Government’s defense said that since “the money was only for printing, since they did not print, the money is no longer needed and can be given to another organization. They have [sufficient] money to print their issues this semester.”