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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU launches continuous housing program: Meet the students staying on campus this Winter Break

Shun Graves/The Daily Northwestern
This winter, one undergraduate dorm, 1871 Orrington will be open for students to stay over break for the first time.

About 40 students are staying on campus during Winter Break after Northwestern launched its continuous housing program for the 2023-24 academic year.

While undergraduates had to move into graduate student dorms for Winter Break in previous years, those enrolled in continuous housing are able to stay in 1871 Orrington from Fall Quarter through Spring Quarter, including Winter Break. 

Many of the students staying on campus are international students, who opted to stay because they decided it was too costly to travel back home for the break. 

Weinberg freshman Zita Ineza, who is from Rwanda, said she was looking forward to exploring new activities this winter.

“We don’t have winters back home,” she said. “So I think it’s an opportunity to try skiing or some other winter activities.” 

Other students hailing from warmer climates, such as Zimbabwean Weinberg freshman Daphine Mutangabende, expressed concerns about the weather.

Mutangabende said she wasn’t used to the snow or Chicago’s harsh winters. 

“I just hope I won’t freeze to death,” she said. 

Like Ineza and Mutangabende, Communication junior Juan Barrera Lopez, who stayed in Evanston in 2021 during his freshman year, said he opted to stay behind in 2021 even though it wasn’t his first choice. 

“The people that are staying here are usually not staying because Evanston is the most fun place to stay during your Winter Break,” Barrera Lopez said.. “It’s low-income international students that have no other option.” 

Due to Residential Services’ prior poor communication about the financial aid application process for Winter Break housing, Barrera Lopez said he could not afford to stay in a dorm over the 2021 break, and instead lived in a friend’s apartment off campus.

Barrera emphasized the need for more targeted resources for students who can’t travel home during the break. Students enrolled in continuous housing this year said the program eliminated ambiguity about whether financial aid would apply to Winter Break housing automatically, which had been an issue in the past.

According to Jenny Douglas, director of operations and services at Residential Services, students enrolled in continuous housing will have access to DoorDash credits and additional pantry items for meals during the break.

Weinberg sophomore Martin Mkrtchian, who stayed on campus for Winter Break in 2022, said learning to cook and shop for himself was one of the biggest challenges he faced.

“The first time I went grocery shopping, I remember spending around two hours trying to figure out what I needed to buy,” he said. “Even though it was a challenge, it was very important for the future … It’s a really good introduction to how living off campus will look like.” 

Douglas said resident assistants would also organize weekly programming for students staying on campus. 

In 2022, RAs planned a movie night and a trip to Evanston Games & Cafe, Mkrtchian recalled.

“I was thinking it’d be nice to have a cozy community builder, something like a hot chocolate social,” said Weinberg senior Jenna Lee, an RA at 1871 Orrington. “I also like doing friendship bracelet-making events because those are always (a) cute, fun craft time.” 

Barrera Lopez echoed the importance of connecting with other students who are staying in Evanston for the winter. 

“Although it’s hard and cold and awful, once you get into those spaces with other people who are staying in Evanston, it really does help build a community,” he said. 

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Twitter: @joyycee_li

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