JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – More than 300 students at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro will remain on campus throughout the Thanksgiving break next week. Students told Region 8 News Friday they didn't agree with the university's policy to charge a fee for a Fall Break Pass, which allows students to live in their dorm through the holiday.
"It's kind of sad, because everybody is going to be leaving me. I'm staying on campus for Thanksgiving," said Kara Love.
Love, a freshman psychology major and double minor, said extra fees make it hard on her finances. She works at a Wal-Mart in Jonesboro and said she doesn't make enough money to afford extras.
"I work Fridays through Mondays, just basically weekends. I work all weekend so I have time during the week to do school and stuff," said Love.
The university charged $75 before November 13 to students who are staying in the dorms for fall break. After November 13, students were charged $85 for the week.
"Even if you're only staying one night, you have to pay the fee for the whole week," said Love.
According to Residence Life, all ID cards will be turned off. The halls will reopen Sunday, November 29 at noon.
"They're fighting for every nickel that they have and that's why when we initially offer that contract, we let them know up front that that's not for those break times. We keep our contract price low for the rest of the students who don't need to be here during fall break. We're actually keeping it cheaper for the majority of the students," said Craig Johnson, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
Johnson said University, Kays and Arkansas Halls are closed for Thanksgiving week. Johnson said the university charges extra to reduce the overall cost for the entire student population.
"It pays for the cost of the staff that we have to have there. We do increase the utilities that are there. Instead of bringing it down to 55 degrees, we keep it at the normal temperature for the school year," said Johnson. "It's a good service that need to be here during that time and it gives us the opportunity of keeping our rates lower for everyone else who doesn't have to been here."
Johnson said more people are expected to stay on campus next week because international students have increased in number.
"I think that we're seeing, especially with our increase in international student population, that that's becoming more of a concern. A lot of our international students, especially during that extended break during Christmas, take advantage of that time to explore the country instead of just being here in Jonesboro," said Johnson. "Those folks that sign up will be given a hall pass that they'll need to have on them at all times for their safety and the safety of others."
The cafeteria will be closed and the food court will be open for breakfast and lunch Monday and Tuesday. Any student caught in residence halls without a Fall Break Pass will be charged $100 and be given a judicial referral.
"When you live on campus you have to purchase a meal plan, which is another $1,200. For one semester to live on campus is about $6,000," said Love. "You're paying outrageous rent when you already live here. You already have permission to be on campus and then they close it down and kick you out."