PASCIAK: The University should better address issues facing out-of-state students

Between breaks that are too short, and difficulty accessing transportation to leave the state, out-of-state students face obstacles that the University could help address

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Among the issues faced by out-of-state students are the struggles to find affordable transportation options during breaks

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Nearly 70 percent of the University is from the state of Virginia. So, naturally, the University is going to focus more on Virginia students. However, this also means that 30 percent come from out-of-state. It often seems as if the University forgets this 30 percent of the student body the struggles that come with being from out-of-state at the University. The University should work towards understanding these issues and should more adequately address the struggles of that 30 percent.  

For example, let us look at the University’s “fall break” — the reading days before midterms on Oct. 5 and 6 this year. This was the first “break” students had since beginning classes at the end of August, so many students took the few days off to go back home. However, for many out-of-state students — and especially international students — going home was not an option. There were only two days where students did not have classes, so the break only allowed students a few days back home, and many out-of-state students decided that the cost of travel was prohibitively expensive for only a few short days back home. So, countless students who don’t hail from some part of Virginia were stuck on Grounds during this time. 

The University, however, offered no accommodations for these students. Buses were not running at all for two days, and O’Hill was the only dining hall that was open, forcing some students who don’t live near O’Hill to walk often as much as half a mile every day for all three meals. It was like preparing for a hurricane before the break started, with many students trying stock up on nonperishable foods that they could eat in their dorms over the break. And since the buses were not running for much of the break, students had to find time during the week to make their way to the store if they wanted food over the break. 

The break for Thanksgiving has just passed, in which the University only gave three class days off. For many out-of-state students who could not miss their classes on Tuesday, they were only able to start their journey home on Wednesday, one day before Thanksgiving. First of all, the University should simply cancel classes for the entire week to allow students the opportunity to make it home and spend time with their families during the Thanksgiving season, regardless of where the consider home. Personally, my trip home took over seven hours, and that’s with flying. I didn’t get home until after seven in the evening the day before Thanksgiving, and many students live much farther than that. 

The University, moreover, does not offer convenient transportation to the Charlottesville Airport, which is about eight miles away from central Grounds. An Uber ride to the airport is not cheap, as prices are almost always over $20 each way. Neither the University buses nor the Charlottesville Area Transit trolleys offer transportation to the airport, so cabs and other ride-sharing services are often the only way to get there. 

The University needs to recognize the 30 percent of undergraduate students who are out of state and should adequately adjust to ensure that these struggles are addressed. The University should not close dining halls like Runk, in order to allow students who choose to stay — or those who have no other option, like international or low income students — the ability to eat without having to walk a mile for each meal. Moreover, buses should continue running during these times, though perhaps less frequently than they usually do. The University should also provide easy transportation to airports during busy flying times and during busy days when students are returning to the University after break. This transportation should be provided at a price lower than that of Uber or other ride-sharing services in order to help out-of-state students — or even in-state students flying somewhere other than home for the breaks — make it to the airport efficiently and provide them with a mode of transportation that is not $40 round trip. Addressing these issues allows for a more convenient and, more importantly, a more affordable experience for out-of-state students.

Zach Pasciak is a Viewpoint Writer for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com.

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