Residence halls, campus to close for semester

On Wednesday March 11, 2020, the first university community member was presumed positive for coronavirus. The university then suspended classes for two days, declared an early spring break and announced that classes would move online. Here is what campus looked like a day after. Louis Mason/THE REVIEW

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Students received word on Friday that they must vacate the university by Tuesday, March 17. All residence halls will close for the remainder of the semester and campus buildings will have varying hours depending on the location.

All other resident students, according to the email, must be moved out of residence halls by 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 22.

If students cannot return home because of travel concerns or restrictions, they are being directed to an online form where they can apply for offered special on-campus housing arrangements. Prorated refunds for dining and housing will come at the end of the semester.

Aidan Kedzierski, a junior that suffers from a chronic pain condition, has to drive back to Georgia due to the university’s request to remove students from campus housing. The sudden news came with confusion as students were not uniformly aware of the information via email.

The initial statement announcing the closing of the campus was posted to an online website almost a full hour prior to students being directly contacted via email by the administration.

“I really don’t like how they posted online before emailing to the students, because that means the students don’t hear everything at the same time and creates confusion,” Kedzierski said.

Throughout the process of decisions regarding the coronavirus, the university consistently posted decisions to social media and spoke with outside press sources like The News Journal prior to releasing official notices to students.

The announcement of a university community member testing positive for coronavirus was first posted to Twitter an hour before emails were sent to students confirming the presumed positive result.

Empty Campus​Kevin Travers/THE REVIEW
​If students cannot return home because of travel concerns or restrictions, they are being directed to an online form where they can apply for offered special on-campus housing arrangements.

Kedzierski said that she had a safe home to return to, but many students who do not are now faced with a very precarious situation.

Joe Kim, a senior and Director of the Diversity and Education for the Lavender Programing Board (LPB), works with many students in the LGBTQ+ community at the university. Many members of said community suffer in abusive households and do not have a safe place to return to.

The registered student organization (RSO) is working to organize and inform the community about where housing can be provided. For the time being, the LPB office will be open on Mondays for people to come in to.

“If someone in the area has a house that they can open up to trans people, then that is our biggest priority,” Kim said.

The RSO is also looking to engage in student activism in order to protest the university’s housing decision.

“We might do an on-campus rally but that is in development right now,” Kim said. “Everything has just happened. It’s garbage that we have to pay for parking and even use dining hall points. It’s ridiculous that the counseling center is closed and we demand spaces to actually be able to grieve and retreat on campus, and there should be on-campus free testing.”

Students across campus are scrambling to make last minute plans to store their things and return home. For many, this is a costly and stressful experience, as the university has provided no guidance or additional support to help students find storage.

Nina Wong, a senior from Dover, is rapidly packing up her room as her father prepares to drive across the state to bring her and all of her things home.

“I’ll be going home tomorrow, [and] my dad will be picking me up,” Wong, who studies international relations, said. “He has to drive here. He’ll have to bring a ton of suitcases here. I’m about to start packing.”

Not everyone is quite so lucky to have parents within driving distance. Many students have spent the afternoon on hold with U-Haul, paying $70 deposits in an effort to secure a coveted storage unit. The cost of closing the campus so last minute is considered an expensive option to those that may have no other choice but to store items near the university instead of hauling them home.

Casey Mires​Kevin Travers​/THE REVIEW
​After the news broke, Casey Meyer, a sophomore biology major, was at the Trabant Student Center using up her remaining dining points for the semester.

After the news broke, Casey Meyer, a sophomore biology major, was at the Trabant Student Center using up her remaining dining points for the semester. She began the semester with 500 dining points, and still had 400 points remaining.

“I’m not even going to eat all of this,” Meyer said. “I live 20 minutes from here, [I’m] about to get in the car and say ‘Bye.’”

Meyer said the situation feels “crazy,” but that she saw it coming. She said that many schools across the country had been shutting down, and believed it was only a matter of time that this university would follow.

Hayden Lueking, a senior exercise science major, said he was sorry to lose his final semester at the university.

“To seniors, this is ridiculous,” Lueking said. “They are basically canceling our last semester here. I don’t know how they could be handling this better, but I know we still want to have graduation.”

The feeling of loss is widespread on campus. Not only are seniors losing their last semester, they say they are being unceremoniously ripped away from their best friends. For many, the fear of never seeing their underclassmen friends who hail from across the country is very real.

Students crying on The Green declined to comment.

Sean Friday currently lives off-campus but said he will be going home next week to be with his family. He said the situation is very unfortunate, but believes the school is handling it the best way they can right now.

Friday, who is studying construction engineering and management, said it isn’t clear if academics for the semester as a whole will be “null.”

“They’re looking out for the safety of their students, and professors that will be at risk,” Friday said. “At this point, I’m not sure how they are going to handle academics, Especially for lab-based majors like bio[logy] or chem[istry], their semesters are effectively canceled anyway.”

This article was updated on Sunday, March 15 at 6:15 p.m. to reflect an error that all campus buildings are currently closed. That is not true. Some campus buildings, like Morris Library, will be open until further notice by the university itself. Readers should check given building or department websites for subjective hours and availability.

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