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Dalhousie residence closure criticized by students, staff, and students union

Dalhousie University’s residence is closed until Jan. 29. The university stated residences would be closed until at least Jan. 29 in a Dec. 23 memo and confirmed residences would be reopening on that date in a Jan. 14 memo.  

There are some exceptions: students permitted to stay over the break, either due to international student status or other personal reasons, have been allowed to stay in residence. 

Still, the closure is controversial among the Dalhousie community, particularly among students in residence and those who represent them. 

First-year science student Hassan Mishal is one of the students permitted to stay in residence due to personal reasons. He’s one of five people currently in Dal’s Glengary Apartments residence. Despite being permitted to stay, Mishal says the situation is frustrating. 

“My girlfriend lives in another room in another residence and she wasn’t permitted to come back,” he said. “I have course books there I need to sell, and she has most of her clothes there.” 

Mishal said he knows several students who left important items in their dorm rooms, including laptop chargers and even medication.  

“Some of my friends are in Airbnb’s or trying to find places to sublet. A lot of my friends are stuck at their homes not knowing when they’ll be back,” said Mishal. 

Rigel Biscione Cruz, who works on Dalhousie’s off-campus housing team, said it is possible for students to retrieve things from their dorms if they contact their individual residence supervisors. The problem is many students are not in the province due to uncertainty surrounding residence. 

“It would be really nice to hear from the university about their plan for residence,” said Cruz. “We haven’t heard anything about re-opening other than they may re-open on the 29th, and it’s obviously difficult for students to figure out what to do without a clearer schedule outside of that.” 

Cruz spoke to the Dalhousie Gazette prior to the Jan. 14 memo announcing residences will reopen on Jan. 29.  

DSU perspective  

“Imagine if you left for the winter break, and then your landlord told you you couldn’t come back into your apartment for a month, maybe more. You’d be furious,” said Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) president Madeline Stinson.  

For the DSU academic and external vice president Frey Verth, the residence closure highlights some of the problematic differences between being a tenant and a student in residence.  

“University residences are treated as congregate living. You have less agency, less protection, and less fundamental respect as a human being in the eyes of our government,” said Verth. 

For example, Nova Scotia’s Residential Tenancies Act says a landlord must produce 24 hours’ notice before entering a tenant’s residence, but Dalhousie’s residence agreement gives authorized personnel entitlement to enter a dorm room at any time they deem necessary. 

Stinson said finding housing in the city is difficult enough given the ongoing housing crisis in Halifax, “we should expect more communication and commitment from Dalhousie on helping house students,” she said.  

Available Resources  

The DSU created an emergency housing bursary at council on Dec. 13, prior to the residence closure.  

The bursary will cost a total of  $10,000, with funding per applicant capped at $4,000. It is meant to help with a one-time emergency housing-related expense. Verth says it’s left intentionally vague so it can cover a range of issues. 

Verth called the bursary a band-aid. “Bandaging a wound doesn’t make it better, but it might buy time until you can reach a hospital,” Verth said. “We aspire to miracles and ideals, but we don’t let the perfect get in the way of doing some good.” 

The bursary is being funded by a budgetary surplus caused by COVID-19 restrictions. The bursary application will be available at the DSU website. 

Cruz also encourages students who need help to contact the Dalhousie off-campus housing team at or the off-campus housing officer at 


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