Campus, Coronavirus, News

BU updates Housing policies, aiding international students

Boston University’s Warren Towers dormitory. Recent changes to BU’s housing policies allow students to now have until Aug. 1 to cancel their fall Residence License Agreement and receive a full refund on their $600 Housing Guarantee Payment. MADI GOLDMAN/ DFP FILE

Boston University students who cancel their fall Residence License Agreement by Aug. 1 will receive a full refund on their $600 Housing Guarantee Payment.

BU will not require students who can’t return to campus — because of travel restrictions or visa problems — to pay room and board fees, even if they don’t cancel their housing by Aug. 1.

A previous policy required that students cancel their housing by July 10 for a full refund of their deposit. Any students who didn’t cancel by Aug. 1 would have had to pay full room and board fees under the old policy.

Many international countries did not and still do not have flights scheduled for July or August inbound to the U.S.

BU revised its “Same Campus, New Campus Life” guide Sunday to reflect the policy change.

BU Spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that the revision was made because of obstacles for some students returning to campus.

“We continue to monitor federal and state guidance and issues related to returning in the fall,” Riley wrote. “These updates reflect those considerations.”

Before the policy change, a group of international students created a petition asking BU to change the requirement because of uncertainties surrounding their abilities to return to campus. As of Tuesday, the petition has nearly 900 signatures.

Ariane Vigna, a rising junior in the College of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences, co-created the petition, as well as a May petition regarding international students’s belongings left on campus.

Vigna said she was “pleasantly surprised” when she saw the policy change for housing cancellations.

“I didn’t think that a change would come and that it would come so fast,” Vigna said. “It was great to see the administration react very quickly, compared to our last petition.”

The previous cancelation deadline was too early, Vigna said, because borders and American embassies are still closed.

“It’s very, very hard to predict when everything is going to open up, Vigna said. “The fact that the deadline was so early didn’t give us time to see how things would evolve, especially since the [International Students and Scholars Office] has said previously that we would probably know more by early- or mid-July.”

She said extending the deadline is a wise move, as it allows students to work with what their government leaders may decide within that extra window of time.

In the future, Vigna said she hopes BU considers the needs of international students before making decisions.

“It seems like they hadn’t thought about what international students might be going through,” Vigna said. “I’m just hoping that in the future they take us into account without us having to advocate for it.”

Genesis Velasco, a rising freshman in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said she’s already decided to return to campus.

“For me, Aug. 1 is fine to be able to decide to go to campus because I’ve always had myself set on going to campus,” Velasco said. “I didn’t really consider doing classes online.”

Velasco added that she feels the original deadline was not in line with BU’s values.

“They’ve always said they want to support students throughout the pandemic,” Velasco said. “But I feel like those actions weren’t reflective of that, especially knowing how a lot of countries’ borders aren’t open yet or they don’t know when they’re going to be open.”

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