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The Daily Tar Heel

Residence Halls to Stay Open During Fall Break

Under the new policy, students may remain on campus when this year's fall recess begins at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. Residence halls were originally slated to close one hour after the end of classes on that day.

Rebecca Casey, assistant director of the Department of Housing and Residential Education, said all resident assistants now are required to be on campus during Fall Break. Housing staff such as housekeepers, maintenance, security and office assistants will not have their schedules altered.

Students staying on campus during Fall Break are required to inform their RA or area director in advance, Casey said. The deadline by which this must be done will be set by each area director and will be announced over each area's listserv.

During the summer, Department of Housing and Residential Education Director Christopher Payne revived an ongoing discussion of residence hall accessibility, especially in regards to school breaks. "An increasing number of students (were) requesting to stay, particularly during Fall Break," Casey said.

Housing officials did not elect to keep the residence halls open for other breaks because most of the demand centered upon Fall Break.

Payne contacted the Residence Hall Association and other housing coordinators and received many responses supporting his proposal to keep the residence halls open during Fall Break.

RHA President David Cooper said he couldn't present any reason why the housing department should keep the residence halls closed over the break. The decision was made late this summer, and comes at a particularly important time considering widespread travel complications resulting from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Freshman Brian Bonaviri had planned to return home to Boston for the fall recess, but now he is not sure he will be able to secure plane tickets.

"If I have to stay, I think it's really cool that I get to stay in my own room," he said. In previous years, students needing to stay on campus were consolidated for interim housing in one or two locations.

While increased residence hall accessibility pleases many students, the new plan could cause some minor problems for other members of the campus community. Maintenance work has traditionally been done in the residence halls during breaks, and resident assistants use the time to check rooms for illegal objects and appliances. These activities will be performed during other breaks or while rooms are occupied.

Having fewer people on campus also increases the risk of security problems, housing officials said. Public safety officials caution all students remaining in University housing during the recess.

But Cooper said he expects the new housing policy to go off smoothly. "As long as it happens without incident, I think this is going to be something regular."

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