Despite College recommendations, many students traveled over spring break

Students left Hanover to visit family, relax or seek other places to stay after failing to receive interim housing from the College.

by Amar Scherzer | 3/30/21 2:00am


Students returned to Hanover this week, some after traveling away during spring break.

by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

In an email announcement sent in February to students approved for spring on-campus access, Dean of the College Kathryn Lively wrote that students living locally were “strongly encouraged” to remain in the Upper Valley over spring break. While some students observed the College’s advice and stayed in the area, others traveled during spring break to spend time with family, alleviate stress between terms or due to a lack of interim on-campus housing.

Ahnili Johnson-Jennings ’23, who left campus after winter term and is living in Lebanon for the spring, said she went on a road trip to visit her sister during spring break after she was denied interim housing by the College and could not return home to Canada due to border restrictions. She added that she felt frustrated that the College did not provide her interim housing despite the international travel challenges she faced. 

“It put a lot of stress on my family to figure out where I could go in the U.S.,” Johnson-Jennings said. “Additionally it was upsetting to hear my peers brag about being given on-campus housing by requesting approval based on what they deemed ‘insignificant reasoning.’”

Associate dean of residential life Mike Wooten wrote in an email statement that only students who had been granted on-campus privileges for both the winter and spring were approved for interim housing.

“Many students who received interim housing expressed gratitude for the opportunity to stay in college-managed housing over the break,” Wooten wrote.

Ariayna Yellowbank ’24, who was approved to live on campus for winter and spring term, said she found the process of obtaining interim housing to be “fast and easy.” She cited the short length of spring break and the risks of exposing family members to COVID-19 as reasons for not traveling home to Oklahoma. 

Sonali Soni ’23, who lived on campus over winter term and is staying in Lebanon, New Hampshire this spring, traveled to Florida with her family at the beginning of spring break. She said that while she tried to maintain social distancing, wear masks and avoid public pools, Florida was flooded with tourists. 

Soni said she agrees that the most responsible way to spend spring break was to stay at home, but she noticed on Instagram and other social media platforms that many of her peers were traveling.

“I think it's hard for the school to be able to have jurisdiction over that because peoples’ families might want to go on a trip,” Soni said. 

Emily Sun ’23, who has not been to campus since winter term last year, is returning to campus for spring term. While she was approved for on-campus housing in the winter, she said that she decided to stay at home because she is immunocompromised. However, Sun noted that given what she characterized as low overall case counts in Hanover over fall and winter term, she feels safe living on campus this spring. 

Sun added that she is not overly worried about students returning from spring break travel. 

“I think that a lot of people who I talked to did not comply with the College’s recommendation [against traveling over spring break] because they had COVID already, so they felt comfortable because they had antibodies,” Sun said. “I feel like that doesn't elevate the risk — [and] other people are vaccinated — but I don't know, I guess we'll see.”