The university will be limiting fall quarter undergraduate housing only to those with “special circumstances,” Chancellor Henry T. Yang announced on Friday night.
Only Guardian Scholars and unaccompanied houseless youth are classified as having “special circumstances” and will be offered housing at the San Clemente Villages Graduate Apartments, Andrea Estrada, Director of Media Relations, clarified in a Sept. 1 email to the Nexus.
“Other students with extraordinary circumstances that prefer to live near campus may email University & Community Housing Services to be considered for placement within Tropicana Student Living,” Estrada said in the email.
The housing contract start date has also been amended to January 31, Estrada said, which is subject to change.
Changes in UCSB’s undergraduate housing situation have been “influenced by the spike in COVID-19 cases in the neighboring community of Isla Vista,” Yang said, urging students to avoid living in I.V. during fall quarter if they can. He wrote that the campus had been notified of more than 65 cases of coronavirus among students living in I.V. since the beginning of August, which represents more than 60% of total cases reported in I.V. since March.
The email listed several factors contributing to the change, stating that the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Isla Vista was an influence, along with the coronavirus outbreaks and consequent suspension of in-person classes at many recently opened universities across the country.
In an Aug. 8 email to incoming freshmen, UCSB announced it planned to offer enough freshmen housing contracts to reach a third of its normal capacity, allowing for only single occupancy rooms.
Now, the university will offer full refunds for fall quarter housing contracts, with the contracts being honored in winter quarter “or whenever [the university is] able to have our undergraduate students move in,” according to the email.
Beyond students with “special circumstances” who are allowed to live on campus, the email encouraged all other undergraduates to live at home if they can while studying remotely, rather than returning to campus or Isla Vista. The email did not specify the criteria for being considered a “special circumstance.”
UCSB will not be offering in-person instruction — except for the possibility of a small number of laboratory and performance courses — and all in-person events on campus, including athletics, will no longer be conducted during fall. In addition, under current UC and state restrictions, the university cannot open indoor campus study spaces and will prohibit visitors and community members who are not carrying out mission-critical work from coming to campus.
Housing will remain open for the university’s graduate students, according to the email, and international students will receive more information from the Office of International Students and Scholars.
UCSB Student Health, which currently offers tests to symptomatic and exposed individuals, will be requiring those living on campus to be tested upon arrival and take a follow-up test seven to 10 days later, the email continued.
The university is also holding a student affairs summer webinar on Sept. 2 to share the latest details on fall planning.
While Yang acknowledged that the “decision for fall may be a great disappointment for our students who had hoped to return to our beautiful campus,” the university hopes that implementing prevention methods now will lead to an earlier return to campus in the future.
“We sincerely hope that by taking these difficult steps now, we will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and increase the possibility that we will be able to offer in-person instruction and activities, as well as campus housing, in the winter or spring quarters,” Yang said.
This article will be updated.
[Updated: 9/1/20, 8:26 p.m.] This article has been updated with new information surrounding students who qualify for fall quarter undergraduate housing under “special circumstances.”