Incoming UC Berkeley students adjust housing plans for fall 2020 after hybrid semester announcement

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After UC Berkeley announced its plan Wednesday for a hybrid fall semester that offers both in-person and online classes, incoming students have needed to make adjustments for the upcoming school year.

There will be limited in-person class options for fall 2020, but physical attendance will not be required for classes or discussion sections, according to the campuswide email from Chancellor Carol Christ.

In addition to academic adjustments made amid the COVID-19 pandemic, other elements of campus life have been disrupted for students, particularly in terms of housing. According to Christ’s email, on-campus housing will only accommodate 6,500 students, and priority will be given to those requiring special accommodations, including students with disabilities.

Due to the limited housing options on campus, some students remain undecided about their plans for fall.

Incoming freshman Tania Salceda said she will only be able to attend her first semester in person if she is offered on-campus housing.

“I believe that the best thing for me as an incoming freshman is to live on campus being that I will have the ability to adapt and transition into college life with other freshman,” Salceda said in the email. “It would all be too much for me as a freshman who lives 6-7 hours away from UCB.”

Finding housing in the city of Berkeley also presents a challenge for students who may not be living in on-campus housing for fall.

Incoming transfer student Bryan Hernandez said his housing for fall remains unclear due to the differing residential capacities of off-campus units in light of COVID-19.

“If the housing unit is forced to adjust resident numbers for safety reasons and my housing offer was to be rescinded, I’d have to find other housing in the Bay or be forced to stay home for the Fall semester,” Hernandez said in an email.

Hernandez said while he thought the hybrid method seemed like a “good compromise,” he remained concerned about opportunities and accessibility for underprivileged students like himself with barriers to online learning.

Additionally, Hernandez commented that he was “disappointed” tuition would remain at in-person costs despite the implementation of the hybrid model.

“I just hope Cal takes into consideration the voice of its students and adjusts tuition or refunds those who choose to take their Fall semester strictly online,” Hernandez said in the email.

Other students plan to continue with their previous housing plans regardless of the fall semester’s instruction style.

Michael Wiafe, an incoming graduate student, said UC Berkeley’s hybrid option presented a less restrictive option in comparison to the virtual format he experienced in his final year at San Diego State University.

Wiafe added that despite the Wednesday announcement, he will still be moving to Berkeley to better facilitate the beginning of his campus experience.

Contact Hanna Lykke at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hannaathearstDC.