University Housing Moves into New Policies

MADDY HARRISON, News Editor

COVID-19 has raised many questions about university housing for this fall. There is concern for the safety of students in regard to social distancing during this pandemic.

Brenda Moeder, interim senior director at University Housing, said that occupancy would be reduced for all residence halls, down to one student per room instead of two. This change will occur in the suite-style campus apartments as well.

Other than reducing rooms to single occupants, University Housing has taken additional precautions to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A major concern is what happens when a student living in the dorms shows the symptoms of or is diagnosed with COVID-19. Housing has come up with a system to try to secure the safety of UCM students.

If a student shows allergy-like symptoms, such as a runny nose or sneezing, and was with others and did not socially distance, the student is recommended to self-quarantine and speak with the University Health Center.

If a student has a known exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, has been tested for COVID and are awaiting results, or have symptoms, they are urged to contact the Health Center and go into medical quarantine.

If a student comes to Housing with a confirmed COVID-19 case, they will be moved out of their current dorm. Housing has reserved two wings of the Fitzgerald dorm hall to create a medical isolation area for these students. According to University Housing, there have only been three students, two in the dorms and one in an apartment, that have been asked to self-quarantine.

In order to keep both symptomatic and sick students in quarantine, University Housing has arranged for meal delivery for them through a portal on the UCM Dining Services page. This allows students to order meals and have them delivered directly to their door. They will also help students coordinate with their professors to receive the materials they need to succeed in their courses.

Even if students are living in separate rooms, social distancing in common areas is a concern.

“We go into every public space — every lounge, every lobby, front desk — and measure,” Moeder said, “and we come up with recommended capacities.”

They have also increased the commuter distance range to allow more students to live at home and arranged for sanitizing stations and plexiglass to be installed. Despite the efforts to promote safety and cleanliness, some students felt that the state of their dorm rooms left much to be desired.

“When I moved into my dorm this year, everything was super nasty,” sophomore Alec Doyle said. “The floor was basically brown, the sink had hair clumps … you’d think after hearing about the virus, the school would put effort to deep clean the rooms before we all came back.”

On the contrary, UCC resident Jonah Nelson, a freshman at UCM this year, felt that Housing was doing their part well. “There are signs up all around the dorm reminding of the mandate,” Nelson said.

“Our CA [made] it very clear that masks are a rule, not a recommendation.” Even though the total number of rooms on campus has decreased, University Housing has not been able to fill all of them. Between the open dorm halls, there were 1,620 dorms available to students, and of these dorms, 1,557 of the beds were filled.

Since The Crossing has private bedrooms, Housing Services deemed it safe to fill these apartments to their usual occupancy of 324 beds.

“The Crossing is at 98% occupancy. We have five open beds, and we’re still working on the waitlist,” Moeder said.

Apartments such as Greenwood and Central Village, which house 42 and 79 students respectively, are also open for multiple students.

The need for more multiple room apartments led the University to take out a temporary lease with Diamond Club Apartments. Students who signed housing agreements later in the summer were placed in these apartments, with the plan to be moved back to campus when vacancies opened.

These apartments are located across from Crane Stadium on Main Street. Moeder said she suspected COVID-19 played a role as to why more multiple room apartments were being rented.

“Not everybody likes to live alone. This gives them an apartment to live in, with a person that they know,” Moeder said. “It gives them some companionship. One of the things that COVID creates is a concern for isolation, but if you live out with a roommate, it takes away some of the isolation.”

Todd and Nickerson, which are the two most popular apartments on campus according to Moeder, have vacant beds. The single room apartments typically have large appeal to students, but this year, Todd has two open rooms and Nickerson has one.

“This is the first year that this has happened,” Moeder said. “We’ve exhausted our waitlist.”