Opinion: Low-income students deserve spring break, too

All University of Iowa students deserve to experience leisure and security during spring break, regardless of socioeconomic status.


Raquele Decker

Photo Illustration by Raquele Decker.

Becca Bright, Columnist

“Poor” is a word most college students use liberally.

This raises brows when the same students are able to afford going on a road trip, or travel abroad. Having the income — whether it’s individually earned, or given by family, or through loans — to buy a vacation experience is not being poor. 

How students talk about money is something that should be questioned. However, what’s more in need of conversation are the socioeconomic realities some students face during spring break. 

A significant number of college students cannot afford a spring break, and must rely on dorm living or university-provided resources. While all students deserve time for leisure and experience, they should at least have the security of their campus.

For students staying in Iowa City for spring break, housing and food is still available through the University of Iowa.

Dorm housing will remain open during the week of spring break: Friday to March 22. While it’s free, students living in the dorms still need to register that they plan to remain in the dorms by 4 p.m. today

The dining halls will be closed, but Union Station in the IMU and Pat’s Diner in the Pappajohn Business Building will have open hours to students. Flex meals or UI charge can still be used to purchase food and drink.

Response to the outbreak is further isolating and abusing already vulnerable communities; all during a time with socioeconomic status is already difficult.

For UI students who don’t have access to housing or food, United Action for Youth is a great social service organization in Iowa City. If a student is experiencing homelessness or food insecurity, please contact them. Their hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.

There’s also a student-run Facebook group that shares events and places offering free food and drink to all UI students.

So while living necessities are available, there are now other threats facing vulnerable student communities.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, many universities across the country are temporarily closing to protect public health. Some are shifting courses to be taught online.

This presents an overwhelming disadvantage for students who depend on open universities for not only food and housing, but access to the Internet and safe living spaces. While UI students still have campus resources for now, all of our college peers still deserve the same security.

COVID-19 aligning with spring break is fueling stigmas and prejudice towards students, who already face discrimination because of their ethnicity, health, or economic status.

Aggressive racism toward Chinese and South Korean students are occurring more and more across college campuses, as the virus first broke out in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Response to the outbreak is further isolating and abusing already vulnerable communities; all during a time with socioeconomic status is already difficult. 

Some students can depend on their parents’ health insurance, or are able to keep themselves well-fed, clean, and have strong immune systems. They afford to take off work. This itself is a leisure.

Many struggle to access these securities. 

Students need their campus resources. Along with dining and housing, Student Health facilities will have open hours during spring break.

For higher-income students, it may be even easier to travel care-free this spring break. Even though plane ticket prices are far cheaper than normal, they are still not affordable to many.

It’s essential to recognize that while the coronavirus may not pose a personal threat to some, but the threat it may have to someone else’s health is very real. 

Acknowledging socioeconomics of all students matters, especially during spring break. With the virus also threatening the securities students need, please be aware of yourself and those around you.