UC Davis Offers Financial Incentive for Stay-at-Home Spring Break
- By Matt Jones
- March 11, 2021
The University of California, Davis is offering its students a monetary incentive to stay home for spring break. Students who opt for a quiet “staycation” over a more traditional college spring break experience will receive $75 in gift cards. The offer comes as the U.S. approaches the one-year anniversary of coronavirus-related shutdowns and restrictions all around the country.
“The idea behind this was to provide a positive incentive for students to follow public health guidance,” said Sheri Atkinson, associate vice chancellor for student affairs.
Students can apply for the gift card by providing a broad description of their plans for the weeklong break, which runs from March 22 to March 26. They have to pledge to stay in town and receive negative results for a COVID-19 test. Atkinson said that about half of the student body either lies on campus or in the surrounding area.
Originally, only 750 such grants were available. However, because of student interest, the number of slots was boosted to 2,000—or $150,000 in gift cards. Atkinson specified that funding for the program will come from philanthropy and university funds, not student-funded tuition or fees. The university commented in a statement that student response to the program had been “awesome.”
Atkinson acknowledged that, in theory, students could receive the grant, take a COVID test, and then travel out of town anyway. “It’s possible,” she said. “I believe our students are pretty honest, and part of the agreement is that they are agreeing to the conditions of this grant.”
Students ready for respite after a challenging, unprecedented academic year embraced the idea. “I feel like if students say they’re going to stay, they’re going to stay,” said UC Davis student Malaika Smith. “I feel like a lot of us are pretty truthful.”
The university offered a similar incentive program during Halloween weekend of 2020. The goal, of course, is to reduce community spread of the virus—especially during the time of year most associated with travel, partying, and letting loose.