In response to students potentially being impacted by the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus, Cal Housing is offering $200 discounts for the first 200 students who register for housing in the 12-week summer session.
Catherine Koshland, UC Berkeley vice chancellor for undergraduate education, said in a Feb. 27 campuswide email that the discount aims to assist students who may choose not to go home this summer. Cal Housing is working with several campus offices to make sure housing is available for students who may be impacted by the spread of COVID-19, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff.
“(The discount) is open to all continuing students, as we have students from many diverse communities who are being impacted,” Ratliff said in an email. “So, we wish to offer this incentive broadly. Beyond the first 200 to apply, we are of course still able to work with students who apply to find them housing options.”
Students are more concerned about barriers to travel rather than financial worries, according to Ivor Emmanuel, director of Berkeley International Office. COVID-19 has created a rapidly developing situation for many students who have plans to travel back home during summer or spring break, he said in an email.
Students are also inquiring if they can return home and complete the semester from home given recent changes to online teaching.
“Some students are concerned that if they travel they may not be allowed to re-enter the country,” Emmanuel said in the email. “Indeed, for some students who would have traveled home over the summer concerns exist about how they should plan for the summer.”
Berkeley International Office is offering a travel webinar that 158 students have signed up for, Emmanuel added.
Despite these efforts from campus administration, ASUC Executive Vice President Andy Theocharous believes its response has been “insufficient,” citing the need for international students to receive priority for summer session courses and “much larger discounts.”
“However, $200, considering the really high rents in the Bay Area, I think it is not substantive. Because honestly, for just 12 weeks or two months, that’s like 5% or less (of housing costs)” Theocharous said. “The university needs to do more.”