How Geneseo Can Be More Accommodating over Breaks: A First Hand Account

 

Many students need to stay on campus over extended breaks for a number of reasons, including financial issues, mental health issues or even the promise of a more stable job in town during breaks. However, Geneseo is not the most user-friendly campus during breaks, which can make the lives of those who stay more difficult than they need to be. 

 

I have stayed on campus over breaks, including this past winter break, and I was asked to provide my insight for a panel during the campus’s ASSESStivus staff training day. Unable to attend, I naturally decided to write an article about my experiences (and also share my insights with other people scheduled to speak in the panel, of course). 

 

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The number one issue that most people who stay over break run into is the lack of public transportation. During the school year, we have multiple daily busses running around campus, town and to stores like Walmart and Wegmans to easily facilitate grocery shopping. During the break, these shuttles do not go through campus, but seem to still run through the town. This makes it very hard for students without cars to be able to feed themselves or get medication during the breaks. Personally, if I did not know people with cars that were also staying over break, I would not have been eating as well as I have been able to. Luckily, Geneseo’s Student Senate is looking into the potential of running some sort of public transport during breaks, but it is still something that has not been addressed yet, and I found it to be a pertinent struggle.

 

On the topic of food availability, I found out via sheer curiosity that my flex account (meal plan dollars that can be used in the vending machines) still worked through December! I used a lot of my leftover flex balance getting snacks from the vending machine during December, which saved me real money by not buying any snacks from Walmart. However, my card was rejected in January, even though my.geneseo.edu shows that I technically still have access to last semester’s leftover meal plan and flex. I think that this shows that there is the possibility of keeping the vending machines functional during breaks, which would be a small step to help address the need for accessible food.

 

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Another possible solution would be to keep a single, central dining option open during break. Over this past summer, the cafe Books & Bytes was open during Milne Library’s business hours, and I was able to grab food during my lunch breaks. However, no such option is available during winter break. I think that if public transportation is not available, then a small dining option like Books & Bytes should be available.

 

Moving away from food, I found a lack of accessibility when looking for information about staying over break. If I did not feel comfortable asking Taylor Gale, assistant director of Residence Life for Housing Operations, about how to request to stay on campus during break, I would not have known how to go about it. I think that this information should be more widely accessible. 

 

I also had no clue who to contact if there was an issue. After a trip to Walmart, I realized that my ID was not in my pocket and that I was consequently locked out of my building. I called the Resident Assistant Duty Phone for my building, which went straight to voicemail. I called University Police and waited 20 minutes for an officer to drive to me and let me in the building. The officer told me that they also struggled to contact anyone in my area, which is why they came to let me in themselves. I feel that those who are staying over break should be given information on who to contact in case of a similar issue, be it a break RA, the Area Coordinator or someone else like University Police.

 

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The ability to stay on campus over break is a blessing, but there are still issues that Geneseo should look into in order to ensure a safe and inclusive environment. I challenge them to really consider the importance of accessible food and information to their students over break.